Nov 18 2021

Preparing for Disaster Creates Resilience within Federal Agencies

Asking for assistance in creating an emergency plan can result in stronger results.

Even in our personal lives, we plan as best we can to protect and defend ­ourselves against threats. We keep ­candles on hand, store pallets of bottled water and keep go-bags available.

But sometimes, no matter our best preparations, we can’t overcome a threat alone. We need the fire department, the Red Cross or our neighbors to help. That idea holds true whether the disaster is man-made or natural, whether it’s in the real world or a cyber environment.

Federal agencies prepare for emergencies much as private citizens do, with plans tucked away for easy reference when they’re needed, extra supplies on hand and phone numbers to call if their own best plans are derailed.

When it comes to cybersecurity, agencies are building new incident response programs designed to detect and mitigate even the slipperiest of attacks. Malware now enters networks through avenues thought to be safe — email received by employees trained to spot phishing attacks, or regular software updates from respected vendors.

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Strong Protection Creates Resilience for Agencies

You can’t prevent everything, but you can give yourself a better view into what’s coming in. In “Increased Network Visibility Decreases Cyber Risk for Federal Agencies,” we learn from the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency about ways to improve visibility into federal networks, and how the Defense Information Systems Agency has begun to implement those methods.

In “Temporary COVID-19 IT Solutions Provide Permanent Options for Federal Agencies,” the Energy Department’s national laboratory network and the National Institutes of Health discuss how using technology to meet an emergency gave these agencies better ways to handle everyday events as well.

Even agencies built to support the public during disasters had to improve response capabilities. “Unprecedented Emergencies Lead SBA, FEMA to Scale Existing Capabilities Further,” describes how the Small Business Administration and the Federal Emergency Management Agency wielded technology during unprecedented events.

Whether the incident an agency is asked to handle is something merely unexpected or one that is unprecedented, having a response plan in place, or being able to quickly tailor an existing one to a new context, is key to recovery, especially in a cybersecurity environment.

And if an agency needs assistance to develop one, there’s no harm in asking for help. The stronger your visibility into oncoming problems, the more resilient you’ll be in the long term.

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