While security experts often face a challenge in determining responsibility for high-profile cyberattacks, they generally agree that the perpetrators are usually nation-states seeking political leverage or organized crime or hackers looking for financial profit.
Intel’s “McAfee Labs Threat Report September 2016” finds that these outsiders are responsible for 60 to 80 percent of breaches. While hacking, malware and social engineering attacks remain the method of choice, what’s changed is the sophistication of the attacks and how quickly they are detected.
Alarmingly, hacked agencies are often unaware of a breach. By the time they discover it, stolen information may have already been used or sold. Because most breaches are discovered by an external party such as white hat hackers or law enforcement officials, the gap between cyberattacks and discovery and remediation lengthens. The findings of Intel’s report demonstrate the need for greater use of endpoint monitoring, intrusion detection and data loss prevention solutions throughout the public and private sector.
Making Strides on Cybersecurity
The good news is that the federal government has made significant progress in improving its security posture: October marked the 13th annual National Cyber Security Awareness Month; Gregory Touhill recently took office as the first federal chief information security officer and will lead a team to instill IT security best practices across agencies; and President Obama leaves as part of his legacy the $19 billion Cybersecurity National Action Plan to bolster the nation’s cyberdefenses.
Part of that plan calls for securing physical facilities and devices. As IT and physical security efforts converge, agencies increasingly combine oversight of logical and physical security. IT leaders can better protect users, property and data by stitching together solutions that control both the physical and the virtual, and those efforts start in the data center. The article “3 Tips to Ensure Smart Physical Security for Your Agency's Data Centers” spells out steps agencies can take to protect their data centers.
Agencies can also improve the security of their networks by making them smarter. The article “How Smart Networking IT Can Help Agencies Improve Services” explains how technologies such as software-defined networking and data center orchestration can help better manage network traffic to make sure problems and anomalies are dealt with.