Government Needs to Shore Up Security Readiness – Before the Next Shutdown

Lloyd McCoy Jr.

By Lloyd McCoy, Market Intelligence Manager

Whether it’s through government shutdowns or cyber threats, the possibility of government having to unexpectedly operate at reduced capacity is greater than ever. While it appears that the recent partial shutdown had minimal impact on security readiness, we should count ourselves lucky instead of expecting such an outcome to be the norm.

With the resumption of full government operations, all agencies, not just those affected, should take stock and partner with industry to shore up their posture in two areas, risk management and AI.

Risk Management

Government agency risk management strategies have traditionally emphasized the threat landscape and vulnerability of attack surfaces. Expect agencies to take a hard look at their risk posture to determine whether they’ve adequately factored in the impact of government shutdowns. This is an area where industry can play a role – helping agencies adjust their security readiness in an environment where reduced operations may become more of a norm.

Work with your government customer or prospect to ensure that proper backup and recovery capabilities are in place, that their systems and networks have the right kind of resiliency and segmentation solutions in place, and that the security personnel are equipped with the right tools to “put out fires” when workforce and capacity levels are compromised.

Another area within risk management where industry can play a role is in helping agencies better identify and protect their most valuable assets – should a disruption like a government shutdown or major cyber-attack occur. Over the last few years an assortment of directives and regulations have emphasized prioritization of high value assets. Progress has been spotty with agencies from Treasury to DHS recently messaging to industry that they are in need of help in both prioritizing and securing their high value assets.

Understand your government customer’s mission priorities. It may not always be obvious. Thoroughly understand their IT environment and then leverage your expertise and tools to harden their most valuable assets and strengthen the risk posture for the rest of their systems and networks.

AI-Enabled Automation

The future also looks bright for AI, especially when it comes to its role in COOP processes. AI security tools that reduce the reliance on people in day-to-day management of security operations (monitoring, remediation, patching) will resonate given the current state of fiscal and operational uncertainty. Such uncertainty was always a driving force behind bringing together AI and security; it’s even more of an imperative now.

You will be well positioned if you can demonstrate how you can help agencies maintain acceptable security readiness levels while operating at less than full strength. Expect AI, machine learning, and the advances in automation that come with it, to be areas of focus for agency cybersecurity budgets in the fiscal years ahead.

As the federal government recovers from the longest shutdown in history, industry and government will need to partner to ensure that the right tools and processes agencies have in place to address threats – identification, detection, protection, responsiveness and recovery operations – are at or near full strength even when agency operations are at reduced capacity.

 

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About Lloyd McCoy Jr.
Lloyd McCoy is a manager on immixGroup’s Market Intelligence organization. He has a M.S. in Strategic Intelligence from the National Intelligence University, a M.A. in Public Policy and a B.A. in Political Science, both from the University of Maryland. Lloyd leads the commercial arm of the Market Intelligence team, leveraging market analysis and purchasing trends to help Arrow’s suppliers and partners shorten their sales cycles. Prior to joining immixGroup, Lloyd was a senior analyst in the Intelligence Community for eight years, serving in a variety of senior analytic and project management positions in the U.S. and abroad.

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