As federal government agencies rapidly evolve into data-driven enterprises, a robust data protection strategy is more important than ever. Securing vital data and information that’s stored in multiple locations – on-prem, in multiple public clouds, in private clouds, and on endpoint devices can be a significant technical, financial and administrative challenge for IT managers
Just as the ways in which we store and transmit data have changed, data protection needs to evolve along with it. “Even before the pandemic data protection strategies in the federal government were shifting,” explained Emmett Kaczmarek, Director, Global Data Protection Strategy at Dell EMC. “But with the rapid transition to remote work and the need to push data to the edge, the need to not only protect data at the edge, but for IT and Infosec to be innately agile, becomes even more important.”
While earlier generations of data security tools did an adequate job at data protection at the core, think of Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS) and Intrusion Protection Systems (IPS), they are neither agile, nor able to protect data at the edge. “It’s a good idea to have proven technology for proven applications – think legacy systems with legacy security,” Kaczmarek, shared. “But with so many applications, storage environments, and endpoints it’s essential to execute a next-generation security posture that can touch everything that’s housed within an agency’s infrastructure.”
To this end, thinking of data protection in an as-a-Service model (DPaaS) provides the ability to cover every byte of data within every facet of an agency’s IT infrastructure. “Operationalizing data protection as-a-Service creates important and strategic advantages for federal agencies,” said Patrick Uon, Solution Strategist with ViON, which partners with Dell EMC to deliver leading DPaaS solutions to federal agencies. “Not only does it shift the expense from a capex to opex and better align with agency budget cycles, but it introduces the flexibility to execute on-demand and tailor levels of data protection based on where data is stored and its sensitivity.”
DPaaS can provide flexible and agile security for data because it’s a cloud-based solution. “Delivering security via the cloud enables agencies to respond to unexpected events, like the sudden move to remote work, easily and with certainty,” Kaczmarek, said. “Data protection can be scaled up, or down, in near real-time instead of waiting days, or more likely weeks, for traditional security solutions to be shipped, set-up, and fine-tuned.”
DPaaS will become important for agencies as security threats continue to grow in number and evolve in sophistication. “DPaaS of course can help agencies mitigate ransomware attacks and recover more quickly from their devastating effects,” said Uon. “But as core mission activities become data-driven ensuring the integrity of data through stringent data governance DPaaS matters even more.”
To illustrate this point Kaczmarek shared the example of the data-driven warfighter who relies on data to complete a mission safely, or to ensure a field sensor is reporting data accurately in response to a chemical weapons attack. “You have to be certain that data isn’t manipulated before you make it actionable,” he explained. “The consequences of being unable to ensure data integrity may not always be literally life-or-death but are always of vital importance when it comes to mission-critical data.”
While data is often seen as a commodity because of its abundance, it’s important to remember that it is a precious commodity when it comes to the data generated and used by federal agencies. And with hackers-for-hire and nation-state adversaries keen to capitalize on any weakness in an agency’s security protocol the need for robust data protection has never been greater. By moving to a DPaaS strategy federal agencies will not only be equipped with state-of-the-art data protection that will ensure the integrity and security of information today, but they will have the technical and financial agility to respond to whatever new threats are on the horizon.