Sep 26 2023

Five Ways Robust Data Protection Defends Critical Infrastructure

With resilient networks and systems, federal agencies can protect key services from attack.

Whether they’re turning on the lights, running the faucet or commuting to the office, citizens expect power, clean water, transportation services and other critical infrastructure to work every day. Critical infrastructure ensures the security, health, safety and well-being of all citizens.

Cybersecurity threats represent one of the most significant strategic risks to the continued operation of these fundamental services. Of the 2,385 ransomware attacks reported to the FBI last year, 870 hit critical infrastructure organizations.

In the recent National Cyber Strategy Implementation Plan, securing our nation’s critical infrastructure is a main focus. The strategy includes new mandates for meeting a baseline of cybersecurity standards for water, power grids, rail and pipelines. Agencies can support the defense of critical infrastructure by making their own systems stronger and more resilient.

Eighteen agencies are currently leading initiatives in the whole-of-government plan as they work toward a more robust, equitable and defensible cyberspace. Many others are following suit to make sure their cybersecurity standards are up to par against inevitable attacks.

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Protect Important Services with Backup Solutions

Data protection is an essential component of any cyberdefense and mitigation plan and should include more than just creating a backup as insurance against an attack. Backups alone aren’t usually fast enough to get an agency back online after a total shutdown, and it’s imperative that agencies maintain continuity of services for citizens.

Agencies should invest in next-generation backup solutions, implementing architectures that can help them address every angle, mitigate every risk and give them every chance to be as resilient as possible.

Modern data protection is strong, fast, simple and cost-effective, and can be established across platforms and technologies to deliver efficient protection — and fast restoration — for critical data and applications.

Agencies can implement advanced data protection systems by employing a sustainable Storage as a Service model that provides financial flexibility and operational agility while mitigating IT risk. With tight, ever-changing budgets, as-a-service solutions allow agencies to focus on innovation rather than managing day-to-day storage administrative tasks.

READ MORE: How to realize the benefits of hybrid cloud environments.

Boost Security to Stay Ahead of an Attack

Agency IT systems should be built with resiliency and durability in mind. Although it’s not possible to guard against every security threat, knowing the common vulnerabilities cyberattackers exploit can help federal government technology teams create the right plan to minimize risk before an attack occurs.

Here are five critical ways to proactively bolster defenses:

  • Perform good data hygiene on systems. Unsupported operating systems and unpatched software open the door for malware infections and other threats. Once bad actors gain access to the environment, they methodically look for key systems and sensitive data to exploit.
  • Implement multifactor authentication and administrative credential vaulting for all systems. Poor password management practices and improperly secured endpoint devices can create vulnerabilities. Multifactor authentication adds extra steps and data security, requiring a personal device or biometrics to prove identity.
  • Provide consistent logging across the entire environment and then protect those logs against hackers. Security and access logs are critical for identifying the source of an attack.
  • Implement a fast analytics platform to identify signs of threat actors in the environment. Speedy, real-time analytics can help agencies spot suspicious behavior and alert them to an attack.
  • Run regular security awareness training with a focus on ransomware and other cyberthreats. Inadequate password and data security policies can result in identity theft or unauthorized access to high-level information. Data access policies ensure that each employee can access only the systems and data they need to perform their job.

DEEP DIVE: Read about the options for as-a-service solutions in data storage.

Secure Your Agency’s Data for the Future

Government agencies are responsible for maintaining critical infrastructure and keeping systems operating smoothly and continuously. Critical infrastructure is increasingly a favorite target for cybercriminals looking to exploit the vital services citizens rely on.

Agency IT systems should be built with resiliency and durability in mind so technology teams can secure their data and systems before an attack. Modern cyberattacks are now targeting backups, modifying or completely wiping them out. The importance of cyber resiliency and the need for faster recovery from ransomware is more important than ever.

Elena Uve / Getty Images

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