White House moves to update office equipment for security
The Obama administration has made cybersecurity a significant area of focus. Domestic and foreign cyberattacks have been ramping up in recent years, with private data stolen from millions of Americans and possible breaches to national security defenses as a result. Putting a stop to these kind of cybercrimes is essential for protecting the American way of life. So much of the nation's vital infrastructures, defense programs and data storage takes place on connected digital spaces. Attempts to tamper with, disable or breach any of the country's security measures to access these programs could have devastating consequences.
One of the first steps in improving government cybersecurity on any scale is to update old technology. Outdated equipment and software is more vulnerable to attacks, since it doesn't have the latest security measures installed. It's also more likely to have already been infiltrated by an undetected virus or Trojan. Upgraded software can help new programs detect these invasions and put a stop to any data mining that's occurring.
"Outdated equipment and software is more vulnerable to attacks."
White House office technology gets a makeover
According to The New York Times, White House and Air Force One technology is only just now getting the upgrading attention that has needed for years. The article states that desktop computers for the West Wing staff were more than 10 years old, wireless connections were weak and staffers had to use outdated phones.
As a result, completing timely and important government work on the road was challenging. The decision was made to update office equipment for the White House and to extend upgrades throughout the federal government to bring in better quality equipment for agencies to work with.
Part of the problem the White House had faced was that multiple agencies were responsible for the technology of the administration. Part of the office's overhaul plans include restructuring of cybersecurity and technical responsibilities in new task forces to help organize and improve efforts. This includes the new role of a Chief Information Officer, a Cyber Information Sharing and Collaboration Program and a Commission on Enhancing National Cybersecurity among other initiatives to help upgrade and enhance U.S. cybersecurity efforts, according to the White House website.
By unifying and streamlining these technological responsibilities, the federal government hopes to make cybersecurity and timely upgrades a larger priority going forward.
Why upgrades matter
Cybersecurity should not only be a focus of the highest levels of the federal government. Data hacks and cyberattacks can affect any agency of any size. National security disruptions are not always the end goal. Some hackers only want to access someone's private information, and it doesn't always matter to whom it belongs or how it is obtained. That makes any kind of organization that holds sensitive identity information, like local and state-level government agencies, vulnerable to attempted breaches.
According to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, proper upgrades don't always need to include a total equipment overhaul as the White House is currently doing. Some problems can be fixed by patches and other software updates that can help head off cyberattacks before they hit. MIT reports that these upgrades can increase protections for email systems, web browsers and media players, which can all leave users vulnerable to malware attacks. Even if a computer appears to be working well, any outdated program can still be putting the entire network at risk.
It's a good idea for organizations to upgrade their systems every time a new edition or patch comes out for their current system. According to Digital Trends, it only takes about five years before a computer or server becomes too outdated to support new software updates, however. So it's important for organizations to keep track of new upgrades available for their needs.
It can be a delicate balancing act between making the right tech purchases and keeping operations costs down. When in doubt, agencies can invest in outside help from government IT industry professionals. These experts can install and organize new cybersecurity plans that will meet all of a group's technical needs without sacrificing important budgets. Industry professionals will help agencies decide which areas have the most critical needs for improvement and make plans to upgrade accordingly.