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Government cyber security: cybersecurity for the nation

Protecting sensitive data must be central to any government cyber security strategy – implement dynamic authorization

Why government needs stronger data security?

Governments are constantly under attack – both by independent and national-sponsored actors. The most obvious form of action is to build defenses around the organization and its data. This is a very wise move. However, it is not sufficient. Critical and sensitive government data also needs to be protected from within.

As a government agency, you should have complete control over who, when, and how your most sensitive data is accessed to minimize data loss and integrity threats. Not only that, you also need a record of who can and who has accessed what, how, when, and why. This is essential to meet and maintain compliance with security directives and privacy laws.

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Challenge: How to secure critical national data

The optimal way to secure national data from within – whether it’s in the cloud or on-prem – is with a high security, dynamic authorization solution. This enables agencies to perform run-time access control based on organizational policies, rules, laws and regulations.

In practice, it delivers the fine-grained controls necessary to, for example, create a mission-critical policy defining a user’s access rights to a data record, taking into consideration a user’s:

  • identity
  • role
  • credentials
  • time of access
  • citizenship and/or place of birth if relevant

Government data security: necessity to protect government infrastructure and data from cyber attacks

Government agencies are awash with sensitive data that has been collected over many years. This includes extremely sensitive data on citizens and companies, all the way through to national security data that must remain secure at all costs. It’s for this very reason that governments remain such a prominent target for cyber attacks.

Since government agencies often have many hundreds or thousands of employees, it’s not possible to use static access controls to safeguard access to data. The introduction of new infrastructure – as services and data move to the cloud – further complicates the situation as it opens up new avenues for attack. The pandemic has compounded this, as home offices add another layer of government data security that must be managed and protected. Centralizing data security has become a must for governments.

How to establish a comprehensive government cyber security strategy

A comprehensive government cyber security strategy built on an established framework is no small undertaking but it can make all the difference.

Understand what data you have and what needs protecting

You have masses of data. Protecting it all would be costly, resource-heavy and unnecessary. Identify the most sensitive data, and what must be protected according to regulations, and work from there.

Once you know which data you need to protect, you can identify its location and who can and who needs to access it and why.

Analyze the threats – both external and insider

If you know where data is located in your ecosystem you can analyze the biggest threats. You may even want to reduce access rights once you learn how much sensitive data is accessible by whom within the organization.

Answer questions, such as: Where is it stored? How is it accessed, e.g., via databases, apps or APIs? If possible, collaborate with peer agencies – there is a good chance that you will be subject to the same threats and will be able to share experiences.

Develop your government data security strategy

You now know which data must be protected and why, where its located, and how it’s accessed. It’s time to develop your federal cybersecurity strategy. Using a recognized framework, such as the one developed by NIST, will be a great support.

It will help you understand how mature your organization is, what immediate and longer-term steps are required, where you should invest first and what timeline should be expected. By now you will also understand if you need support in the form of government data security systems or consulting services.

Monitor and review – always

Federal government cyber security is an ongoing process. You need to constantly update and monitor the situation. People will leave or change roles, new data will be created, old data will need deleting, regulations will change, and your stack may alter – all this will impact data security.

Policies governing data access will need to be updated on the fly – so it’s very helpful to have them in a central management system.

Securing federal systems and information

To give yourself the best chance of preventing insider threats, you need a solution that can secure information across the federal system based on multiple controls – and that means doing it dynamically. The rich controls on offer from dynamic authorization (also known as attribute based access control, ABAC) mean that rather than having single factors driving security, you can use as many variables (or attributes) as you wish.

two people collaborating

Protecting privacy and sensitive data with an approved federal provider

As an Approved Federal Provider of dynamic authorization, you can trust our software to meet the needs of your organization. Axiomatics Federal, Inc is fully licensed to supply government cybersecurity solutions that protect privacy and safeguard sensitive data. With government contracts spanning Europe and the US, we have the experience and knowhow to support your organization in mitigating data security risks.

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