Insight By Microsoft

Addressing threats through a Relentless Focus on Security

This content is sponsored by Microsoft

By Susie Adams, Chief Technology Officer, Microsoft Federal, Microsoft

Federal IT leaders are being faced with the challenge of integrating disruptive technologies such as cloud computing and the Internet of Things (IoT) into their IT environments, while at the same time delivering services to an increasingly mobile citizenry and workforce. This must all be done while ensuring the security of data and infrastructure in an increasingly threatening environment.

Providing these services securely in this new environment requires transforming the way agencies do business, with a proactive approach to cybersecurity that extends beyond the data center and combines human analysis with actionable intelligence and machine learning. Security built into a modern cloud environment provides the tools.

New Expectations

Agencies are being pressed to provide a better online experience for citizens and employees. Citizens expect secure and mobile digital services delivered any time, at any place on any device. An increasingly mobile workforce needs access to an increasingly complex IT environment in which connections and devices are no longer managed by the agency. Policies and tools developed for an IT environment that was managed behind a secure perimeter no longer are adequate.

Agencies must rethink both services and security. Data and security no longer stop at the boundaries of the data centers. Data must be protected on any device and in transit over any type of connection. At the same time threats are becoming more complex. Bad actors range from criminal organizations to nation states and attacks can exploit known vulnerabilities in legacy software as well as new platforms. As a result, static defenses no longer can be depended on to stop attackers, and breaches of information systems often are not detected until months after the fact.

IT leaders must shift their security mindset from a traditionally prescriptive approach to a proactive approach that includes a thorough integration of existing tools and methodologies with new capabilities taking advantage of today’s virtual environment.

At Microsoft, we help federal IT leaders to understand their security in the new hybrid environment where resources are located both on premises and in the cloud. In this new paradigm:

  • Identity is the firewall, and user identity must be assured regardless of the device or connection;
  • Devices are the perimeter to be secured; and
  • The new security model assumes that a breach is inevitable.

Engaging Proactive Cybersecurity

A holistic, end-to-end approach is needed to defend against attacks and to respond and recover quickly when a breach occurs. Up-to-date threat intelligence provided through Microsoft’s vast cyber footprint, which anonymizes data from billions of logins, devices and services, can help in protecting hardware, infrastructure and applications.

President Trump, in his May 11 executive order on cybersecurity, calls on agencies to take a risk management approach to security. Microsoft has developed an Azure Blueprint Customer Responsibilities Matrix (CRM) to provide a clear path for agencies to meet this requirement. The matrix identifies framework controls that agencies are responsible for implementing, as well as controls implemented by Microsoft in the Azure Government cloud.

Assuming that a breach is inevitable enables agencies to anticipate, quickly respond to and recover from security incidents. But it does mean that agencies shouldn’t stop what they’re already doing. It is vital that agencies continue to implement security best practices and leverage their existing tools and policies. The holistic end-to-end approach to security adds another layer to agency cybersecurity that allows them to take advantage of shared services and the cloud. To help agencies protect their data in this new environment, Microsoft has a suite of products and services that can be used in concert with existing security solutions.

When coupled with cloud computing, machine learning, advanced threat analytics and artificial intelligence, these products and services help agencies protect their resources and identify behavioral and other anomalies in the huge volumes of data now available. This provides human analysts with actionable intelligence needed to protect networks.

Microsoft’s Azure Government cloud platform, which serves nearly six million government users across more than7,000 federal, state and local organizations, delivers secure cloud services that comply with the most stringent requirements of each agency. Azure Government is the only cloud offering with a DoD Impact Level 5 Provisional Authorization  for infrastructure, platform and productivity services. Azure Government certifications include FedRAMPFBI CJIS agreements with 27 states, HIPAA and many more.

As IT leaders re-think their approach to cybersecurity, extending beyond the perimeter of the enterprise and the data center to include the mobile devices and remote connections, they can leverage the capabilities of the cloud to help them better engage both citizens and their workforce.

For more information, please visit Microsoft.com/federal

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