Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Endpoint

10/16/2019
10:00 AM
William Peteroy
William Peteroy
Commentary
Connect Directly
LinkedIn
RSS
E-Mail vvv
50%
50%

Federal CIOs Zero In on Zero Trust

Here's how federal CIOs can begin utilizing the security concept and avoid predictable obstacles.

Now more than ever, the US government has focused on proactive cybersecurity measures. Under President Donald Trump's proposed budget for fiscal year 2020, the federal cybersecurity budget would increase to $17.4 billion, up from an estimated $16.6 billion this year.

The budget increase shouldn't come as a surprise, as major data breaches continue to cripple organizations of all sizes and sectors worldwide while malicious nation-state adversaries continue to apply pressure, especially on government organizations. With cybercrime continuing its steep trajectory, it's projected to cost the world $6 trillion annually in damages by 2021, according to Cybersecurity Ventures.

Within cybersecurity spending, one of the areas federal CIOs are eyeing is the concept of zero trust, due in part to recent reports from the Defense Innovation Board and the American Council for Technology-Industry Advisory Council. Zero trust is now front and center for federal CIOs, but where exactly should they begin?

Beyond Jargon: What Is Zero Trust?
Zero trust fundamentally focuses on establishing new perimeters around sensitive and critical data. These perimeters include traditional prevention technology such as network firewalls and network access controls, as well as authentication, logging, and controls at the identity, application, and data layers.

While the concept sounds simple, especially as information security vendors claim to make the road to zero trust easy with their products, the reality is much more complex. Zero-trust architectures (ZTAs) require extensive foundational investments and capabilities as well as extensive logging and control layers that are largely in the traditional IT stack more than a plug-and-play security technology.

Getting Started
Federal IT environments are complicated, and as CIOs take a closer look, they will see in many cases they're already notionally on a path to Zero Trust. There are a number of foundational requirements that are not unique to Zero Trust that map back to the DHS's Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation (CDM) program.

To get started on the road to zero trust, government organizations should begin with CDM Phase 1 requirements that focus on understanding what's on the network. The CDM Phase 1 requirements include:

  • Automation of hardware asset management
  • Automation of software asset management
  • Automation of configuration settings
  • Common vulnerability management capabilities

By following these requirements, federal CIOs can begin to gain a true understanding of the sheer amount and sensitivity of the data they hold.

The Obstacles in the Road
ZTA generally assumes that an enterprise has fully embraced concepts such as DevOps and has limited legacy data and applications. Federal networks are different because they have been around longer and have more legacy technology than most enterprises. They also leverage secure facilities for access to sensitive data and are already under constant attack from nation-state adversaries.

Beyond CDM Phase 1 requirements, federal CIOs should shift focus to identifying critical data in their networks and building secure applications and identity management systems around that critical data. Once sensitive data has been identified, network and application logs should be used to determine who accesses the data on a regular basis; this information can be entered into traditional network-layer and application-layer controls, such as firewalls and role-based access to applications and data.

Today, one of the biggest decisions that federal CIOs must make is how they shift their development requirements for current, next-generation and legacy applications. With the advent of ZTA, it's likely that CIOs require all applications to use a centralized identity, credential, and access management solution. But when it comes to current applications, there is a significant cost to retrofit access controls (adding firewalls and application gateways) and it's unclear who will foot the bill between security: IT or application development teams.

The final challenge will be around legacy applications such as mainframe applications, which are common in data-intensive government lines of business applications. Without a straightforward way to add layers of protection and monitoring to these systems, CIOs will either spend money to completely redesign these systems or accept that a true ZTA is still beyond their reach or the reach of their budgets.

Related Content:

Check out The Edge, Dark Reading's new section for features, threat data, and in-depth perspectives. Today's top story: "Works of Art: Cybersecurity Inspires 6 Winning Ideas"

William Peteroy is the Chief Technology Officer, Security, at Gigamon, where he leads security strategy and innovation efforts. William joined Gigamon through the acquisition of ICEBRG, where he was CEO and co-founder. Before Gigamon, William worked in a number of business ... View Full Bio
 

Recommended Reading:

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Oldest First  |  Newest First  |  Threaded View
Commentary
Ransomware Is Not the Problem
Adam Shostack, Consultant, Entrepreneur, Technologist, Game Designer,  6/9/2021
Edge-DRsplash-11-edge-ask-the-experts
How Can I Test the Security of My Home-Office Employees' Routers?
John Bock, Senior Research Scientist,  6/7/2021
News
New Ransomware Group Claiming Connection to REvil Gang Surfaces
Jai Vijayan, Contributing Writer,  6/10/2021
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win an Amazon Gift Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: This comment is waiting for review by our moderators.
Current Issue
The State of Cybersecurity Incident Response
In this report learn how enterprises are building their incident response teams and processes, how they research potential compromises, how they respond to new breaches, and what tools and processes they use to remediate problems and improve their cyber defenses for the future.
Flash Poll
How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
Recent breaches of third-party apps are driving many organizations to think harder about the security of their off-the-shelf software as they continue to move left in secure software development practices.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2021-31618
PUBLISHED: 2021-06-15
Apache HTTP Server protocol handler for the HTTP/2 protocol checks received request headers against the size limitations as configured for the server and used for the HTTP/1 protocol as well. On violation of these restrictions and HTTP response is sent to the client with a status code indicating why...
CVE-2021-20027
PUBLISHED: 2021-06-14
A buffer overflow vulnerability in SonicOS allows a remote attacker to cause a Denial of Service (DoS) by sending a specially crafted request. This vulnerability affects SonicOS Gen5, Gen6, Gen7 platforms, and SonicOSv virtual firewalls.
CVE-2021-32684
PUBLISHED: 2021-06-14
magento-scripts contains scripts and configuration used by Create Magento App, a zero-configuration tool-chain which allows one to deploy Magento 2. In versions 1.5.1 and 1.5.2, after changing the function from synchronous to asynchronous there wasn't implemented handler in the start, stop, exec, an...
CVE-2021-34693
PUBLISHED: 2021-06-14
net/can/bcm.c in the Linux kernel through 5.12.10 allows local users to obtain sensitive information from kernel stack memory because parts of a data structure are uninitialized.
CVE-2021-27887
PUBLISHED: 2021-06-14
Cross-site Scripting (XSS) vulnerability in the main dashboard of Ellipse APM versions allows an authenticated user or integrated application to inject malicious data into the application that can then be executed in a victim’s browser. This issue affects: Hitachi ABB Power Grids ...