Many agencies are already practicing excellent cyber hygiene; others are still in implementation phases. Regardless of where you are in the process, it is critical to understand that security is not a one-product solution. Having a solid security posture requires a broad range of products, processes and procedures.

 

Networks, for example, are a critical piece of the security picture; agencies must identify and react to vulnerabilities and threats in real time. You can implement automated, proactive security strategies that will increase network stability and have a profound impact on the efficiency and effectiveness of the overall security of the agency.

 

How can agencies leverage their networks to enhance security? Below are several practices you can begin to implement today, as well as some areas of caution.

 

Standardization. Standardizing network infrastructure is an often-overlooked method of enhancing network performance and security.

 

Start by reviewing all network devices and ensure consistency across the board. Next, make sure you’ve got multiple, well-defined networks. Greater segmentation will provide two benefits: greater security, as access will not necessarily be granted across each unique segment, and greater ability to standardize, as segments can mimic one another to provide enhanced control.

 

Change management. Good change management practices go a long way toward enhanced security. Specifically, software that requires a minimum of two unique approvals before changes can be implemented can prevent unauthorized changes. In addition, make sure you fully understand the effect changes will have across the infrastructure before granting approval.

 

Configuration database. It’s important to have a configuration database for backups, disaster recovery, etc. If you have a device failure, being able to recover quickly can be critical; implementing a software setup that can do this automatically can dramatically reduce security risks. Another security advantage of a configuration database is the ability to scan for security-policy compliance.

 

Compliance awareness. Compliance can be a complicated business. Consider using a tool that automates vulnerability scanning and FISMA/DISA STIG compliance assessments. Even better? A tool that also automatically sends alerts of new risks by tying into the NIST NVD, then checking that information against your own configuration database.

 

Areas of caution:

Most security holes are related to inattention to infrastructure. In other words, inaction can be a dangerous choice. Some examples are:

 

Old inventory. Older network devices inherently have outdated security. Invest in a solution that will inventory network devices and include end-of-life and end-of-support information. This also helps forecast costs for new devices before they quit or become a security liability.

 

Not patching. Patching and patch management is critical to security. Choose an automated patching tool to be sure you’re staying on top of this important task.

 

Unrestricted bring-your-own-device policies. Allow BYOD, but with restrictions. Separate the unsecure mobile devices on the network and closely monitor bandwidth usage so you can make changes on the fly as necessary.

 

There is no quick-and-easy solution, but tuning network security through best practices will not only enhance performance, but will also go a long way toward reducing risks and vulnerabilities.

 

Find the full article on Government Computer News.