Cybersecurity in our Connected Future

According to expert analysis, there will be more than 20 billion internet-connected devices by 2020. This profusion of connected devices, of course, is not limited to the private sector: from weapons systems and soldier uniforms to smart military bases and connected vehicles, the government has been an early adopter of the Internet of Things as a means to enhance national defense. Given the amount of connected devices used in modern warfare, it makes sense that the military is continuously seeking to expand these applications to more effectively gather, analyze and leverage defense data.

In a recent Defense One viewcast that was sponsored by Cloudera, Gus Hunt, Managing Director and Cyber Lead, Accenture Federal Services, and Frank Konieczny, Chief Technology Officer, Office of Information Dominance, and Chief Information Officer, Office of the Secretary of the Air Force, sat down with Patrick Tucker, Technology Editor, Defense One, to discuss the opportunities and challenges presented with the Internet of Things and what these mean for the future of U.S. national security.

“The potential for the Internet of Things to deliver life-changing capabilities that will completely revolutionize how we deliver everything from healthcare to citizen services to defending our nation is astoundingly large,” said Gus. “Right now we have this mad rush to market. Make it smart means make some money, but the rush means that security becomes an afterthought. The potential benefit of this connectivity is massive, but we have to change how we approach cybersecurity in order to protect ourselves as we head toward this IoT future.”

One of the critical components to ensuring cybersecurity as more devices come online is network segmentation. Do we want all Internet of Things devices running on the same network? Do we want critical systems like medical devices or military communication units talking on the same network as your Kindle? Frank, who approaches cybersecurity from an Air Force perspective, was asked how other CTOs should approach network segmentation.

“We’re mission defense people, so our first questions is always, ‘What are your crown jewels that you need to protect?’,” said Frank. “And then, what IoT devices are feeding into those crown jewels – that’s how you determine network segmentation. Organizations today are systems within systems. You may think that your financials are your crown jewels, so you want to segment those out, but what are your feeds into those financials? The smartphones where employees enter time? The bank that executes your transactions? You need to identify all the feeds, their IoT capabilities and security risks to start developing a holistic understanding of your network. Only with that understanding can you begin to effectively segment your network.”

Frank, Gus and Patrick also discussed the importance of manufacturers encouraging basic cyber hygiene, why system resiliency is crucial in a “when” not “if” threat environment, and how agencies should proactively hunt and attack their own systems to stay one step ahead of bad actors. Multi-layered protection using hardware and software integrated security at the outset that, at a minimum, protects storage, device identification and authentication, software authentication, and enables a trusted execution environment is critical.
Click here to watch the full Defense One viewcase, and to learn more about how Cloudera can help government agencies combat the cyber risks that accompany the spread of IoT devices, visit our Public Sector site.

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