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In the wake of a riot and invasion of the U.S. Capitol, a panel of cybersecurity experts sat down to discuss another unprecedented incident facing the nation: the SolarWinds cyberattack that has impacted networks across all levels of government and the private sector. The Thursday discussion, which was moderated by John Carlin, chair of the Cybersecurity and Technology program at The Aspen Institute, aimed to answer three questions: How did the cybersecurity defenses fail so severely, the long-term risks and what to do now? To answer these questions, The Aspen Institute turned to Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va.; Kevin Mandia, the CEO of cybersecurity firm FireEye; and Katie Moussouris, the founder and CEO of Luta Security. The alleged Russian cyberattack, which initially took place in the spring of 2020, was first discovered by FireEye on Dec. 9. After extensive research into the specifics of the attack, Mandia and his team alerted government officials.
Effective leadership is never easy. But for government cyberleaders in the 2020s, the challenge is perhaps more daunting than ever before. From keeping track of exploding cyberthreats to acquiring and retaining talented pros for your public-sector team to championing the importance of cybersecurity to managing budget priorities in tough economic times, the list of responsibilities and expectations is growing steadily. Add the remote working changes in people, processes and technology that enterprises faced in 2020, along with other pandemic pressures, and it is amazing that security leaders keep coming back each day. So how can cyberchiefs traverse this hectic landscape? Here are 10 best practices that come from a list of security industry resources, five dos and five don’ts for new and veteran government cyberleaders. Even if you’ve heard some of these tips before, ask a trusted colleague to help assess how you are doing in each area.
As the U.S. prepares for President-elect Biden’s administration, there will be a significant number of government officials changing roles. This influx of federal job transitions can greatly complicate IT security measures for public chief information officers and IT professionals, especially since the government sector in particular faces the daunting task of keeping employee and classified data secure. With the number of new types of identities—customers, partners, workforce, citizens, machines, devices, bots’ APIs, applications and microservices—security and IT teams are overwhelmed. Legacy identity governance solutions that federal agencies used traditionally can no longer keep up because they are based on manual human reviews and fulfillment. As a result, many government organizations are at risk of a growing problem today: employee entitlement creep.
The far-reaching cybersecurity breaches of 2020, culminating in the widespread Solarwinds supply chain attack, were a reminder to decision-makers around the world of the heightened importance of cybersecurity. Cybersecurity is a board-level issue now for many firms. As per the World Economic Forum's Global Risks Report 2021, cyber risks continue ranking among global risks. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated technological adoption, yet exposed cyber vulnerabilities and unpreparedness, while at the same time exacerbated the tech inequalities within and between societies. Looking at the year ahead, it is critical to continue elevating cybersecurity as a strategic business issue and develop more partnerships between industries, business leaders, regulators and policymakers. Just like any other strategic societal challenge, cybersecurity cannot be addressed in silos.
Government-backed hackers based in North Korea are targeting individual security researchers through a number of means including a “novel social engineering method,” Google’s Threat Analysis Group is reporting. The campaign has reportedly been ongoing for several months, and worryingly appears to exploit unpatched Windows 10 and Chrome vulnerabilities. Although Google doesn’t say exactly what the aim of the hacking campaign is, it notes that the targets are working on “vulnerability research and development.” This suggests the attackers may be trying to learn more about non-public vulnerabilities that they can use in future state-sponsored attacks.