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3 Ideas to Build a Better Cybersecurity Strategy

Level 12

Omar Rafik, SolarWinds Senior Manager, Federal Sales Engineering

Here’s an interesting article by my colleague Jim Hansen where he discusses some ideas on improving agency security, including helping your staff develop cyberskills and giving them the tools to successfully prevent and mitigate cyberattacks.

Data from the Center for Strategic and International Studies paints a sobering picture of the modern cybersecurity landscape. The CSIS, which has been compiling data on cyberattacks against government agencies since 2006, found the United States has been far and away the top victim of cyber espionage and cyber warfare.

These statistics are behind the Defense Department’s cybersecurity strategy for component agencies that details on how they can better fortify their networks and protect information.

DoD’s strategy is built on five pillars: building a more lethal force, competing and deterring in cyberspace, strengthening alliances and attracting new partnerships, reforming the department, and cultivating talent.

While aspects of the strategy don’t apply to all agencies, three of the tactics can help all government offices improve the nation’s defenses against malicious threats.

Build a Cyber-Savvy Team

Establishing a top-tier cybersecurity defense should always start with a team of highly trained cyber specialists. There are two ways to do this.

First, agencies can look within and identify individuals who could be retrained as cybersecurity specialists. Prospects may include employees whose current responsibilities feature some form of security analysis and even those whose current roles are outside IT. For example, the CIO Council’s Federal Cybersecurity Reskilling Academy trains non-IT personnel in the art and science of cybersecurity. Agencies may also explore creating a DevSecOps culture intertwining development, security, and operations teams to ensure application development processes remain secure and free of vulnerabilities.

Second, agencies should place an emphasis on cultivating new and future cybersecurity talent. To attract new talent, agencies can offer potential employees the opportunity for unparalleled cybersecurity skills training, exceptional benefits, and even work with the private sector. The recently established Cybersecurity Talent Initiative is an excellent example of this strategy in action.

Establish Alliances and Partnerships

The Cybersecurity Talent Initiative reflects the private sector’s willingness to support federal government cybersecurity initiatives and represents an important milestone in agencies’ relationship with corporations. Just recently, several prominent organizations endured what some called the cybersecurity week from hell when multiple serious vulnerabilities were uncovered. They’ve been through it all, so it makes sense for federal agencies to turn to these companies to learn how to build up their own defenses.

In addition to partnering with private-sector organizations, agencies can protect against threats by sharing information with other departments, which will help bolster everyone’s defenses.

Arm Your Team With the Right Tools

It’s also important to have the right tools to successfully prevent and mitigate cyberattacks. Continuous monitoring solutions, for example, can effectively police government networks and alert managers to potential anomalies and threats. Access rights management tools can ensure only the right people have access to certain types of priority data, while advanced threat monitoring can keep managers apprised of security threats in real-time.

Of course, IT staff will need continuous training and education. A good practice is implementing monthly or at least bi-monthly training covering the latest viruses, social engineering scams, agency security protocols, and more.

The DoD’s five-pillared strategy is a good starting point for reducing the risk of the nation. Agencies can follow its lead by focusing their efforts on cultivating their staff, creating stronger bonds with outside partners, and supporting this solid foundation with the tools and training necessary to win the cybersecurity war.

Find the full article on Government Computer News.

The SolarWinds trademarks, service marks, and logos are the exclusive property of SolarWinds Worldwide, LLC or its affiliates. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

6 Comments
MVP
MVP

Thanks for the write up.

Level 12

I wish more management recognized how critical that training is, and that if you expect your staff to put in more than 40 hours per week they won't be able to devote the necessary time to education when off the clock.

MVP
MVP

Nice article. I personally think that the team is the most important element on your list. With a good team there is good communications, individuals interact with others to "fill in the gaps" and ideas are bounced off of each other to come up with quicker responses and more creative thinking. As much as we like to automate and rely on our machines and software, people are still the most important element in good security.

Training, training, training!  From getting the right people to the right classes, to instilling an philosophy of "security first" in all employees and clients, no one will do the work right unless they understand the right way to do it.

Then test and confirm they're getting it right.  The difference between knowing the right way to do things and doing them right every time is the difference between a good working environment and one with ransomware notices displayed on every screen.

Level 13

Thanks for the article

Level 12

thanks for the article