Government further embraces continuous cybersecurity monitoring

Cybersecurity is unquestionably one of the U.S. government's highest priorities right now. Agencies are among the most tempting targets for cybercriminals, making proactive and ongoing defensive efforts essential.

As InformationWeek recently reported, the U.S. government is addressing these issues by, among other things, utilizing continuous security monitoring to a greater degree, among other things. Such efforts can go a long way toward reducing the threat posed by cybercriminals.

Continuous efforts at the DHS
The news source noted that the Department of Homeland Security and Department of Defense have been particularly proactive in this area, developing programs that can automatically detect and eliminate threats as they appear.

At the recent Cybersecurity Summit, Phyllis Schneck, deputy undersecretary for cybersecurity in the DHS' National Protection and Programs Directorate, highlighted the Einstein 3 continuous monitoring and mitigation software solution, InformationWeek reported. While currently only in place in the DHS, Einstein 3 will eventually be deployed across the federal government, as well as participating commercial firms and critical infrastructure organizations, Schneck explained.

The news source noted that once it is up and running across the government, agencies will be able to dedicate far more of their IT personnel to more serious, bigger-picture technical challenges.

DOD cybersecurity​
InformationWeek reported that the U.S. Navy is also making significant progress in the realm of continuous cybersecurity monitoring. Shaun Khalfan, chief of the cybersecurity and infrastructure team in the Navy CIO's office, explained that the Navy participates in several federal continuous data monitoring programs.

Additionally, Ray Letteer, chief of the Marine's cybersecurity division, explained that the organization recently deployed a system that automatically scans new equipment for potential threats as soon as it is activated, the news source noted. This system can determine whether a laptop complies with DOD security standards in less than a minute, he stated.

A key focus for the Navy and other DOD-related organizations, Khalfan explained, is utilizing IT systems that feature built-in security. Unfortunately, many of the programs used by government agencies include cybersecurity elements that were bolted on at the last minute, due to a lack of focus on data protection in the earlier stages of development. When this is the case, the quality of the cybersecurity protection will almost always be insufficient.

Automation needed
Automatic, continuous cybersecurity monitoring is especially important for federal agencies because the government has recently struggled to attract a sufficient number of skilled IT professionals. Most talented, up-and-coming personnel instead turn to the private sector when they complete their educations. The public sector is widely seen by these groups as more constrained, due to its inherently bureaucratic nature. Furthermore, government agencies typically cannot afford to provide the same level of compensation as companies and even startups.

While not resolving this issue, automatic cybersecurity efforts reduce the need for IT professionals, thereby serving at least as a stopgap for federal agencies worried about protecting their information from the growing, evolving threats posed by cybercriminals around the world.