The Department of Defense (DOD) has become increasingly reliant on digital technologies to help accelerate military operations, improve existing processes, and perform critical functions.
They leverage these technologies to share and exchange Covered Defense Information (CDI) and Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) as they collaborate across research, design, development, and deployment of defense products.
Given the sensitivity of the data being exchanged, the Defense Department is at the continuous risk of threats from cyberattacks and theft of intellectual property.
A successful cyberattack can lead to a national security threat, apart from causing significant financial and reputational damage.
Compounding these threats, the DOD is riddled with new cybersecurity vulnerabilities as they accelerate towards a modern, distributed work environment that supports access to more sensitive information for employees working remotely.
Therefore, the defense agencies require a more holistic cybersecurity strategy to secure sensitive data across cloud and data centers while protecting users and devices at remote locations.
Here are five key cybersecurity attributes the DOD must consider meeting the dynamic challenges of today and the emerging threats of tomorrow:
Five Security Strategies for Distributed DOD
1. Zero Trust Security
Zero Trust is a strategic cybersecurity model designed to effectively adapt to the complexity of the modern environments, embrace the distributed workforce, and protect devices, apps, and data, irrespective of their location.
Instead of assuming every access within the corporate firewall as safe, the Zero Trust model assumes every access as a breach and verifies each request regardless of its location or what resource it accesses.
This creates a zero-attack surface, securing defense agencies’ critical data from the malware and ransomware threats and VPN attacks.
Implementation of an effective Zero Trust policy involves the adoption of a mix of security procedures, including Multifactor Authentication (MFA), Identity and Access Management (IAM), Privileged Access Management (PAM), network segmentation, and the principle of least privilege.
2. Control Access to Network
As data is spread across a host of cloud and data center locations in distributed environments, the defense agencies must ensure to connect the user to an application instead of a network. The agencies must limit user access with just-in-time, just-enough-access, least privileged access principles to enable the right access to the right resources.
Zero-Trust network access solutions prevent unauthorized access with simple policies that are user-centric rather than network-centric.
3. Multi-tenant Cloud
In the modern, distributed work environment, agencies must facilitate secure data sharing and provide a wide range of collaboration tools for remote workers to enhance productivity. Multi-tenant cloud architecture can ideally facilitate these capabilities.
A cloud-native multi-tenant architecture eliminates the need for security stacks, enabling users to share information efficiently while securely scaling up and down as per the demands of the dynamic market. Moreover, it provides the necessary reliability and privacy demands of the present IT environments.
4. Proxy Architecture
A cloud-based proxy architecture enables defense agencies to quickly scan all encrypted traffic for data exposure and threats without compromising productivity. This ultimately leads to reduced latency and improved user experience.
Moreover, it allows agencies to scan for threats in real-time and proactively prevent cyberattacks from occurring.
5. Secure Access Service Edge (SASE)
Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) is an identity-based security strategy that enables users to connect securely to an organization’s critical resources and assets from remote locations.
Instead of enabling security perimeters around applications, SASE allows agencies to secure the user and data.
SASE unifies essential security functions such as web gateway firewalls, zero-trust capabilities, data loss prevention, and secure network connectivity. This significantly reduces the expenses and resources the agencies require when adding security functions to fill gaps across the distributed workspace.
As the Department of Defense becomes more distributed than ever, it’s imperative for the agencies to adopt a holistic security approach to address sophisticated and unpredictable cyber threats.
However, according to DoD’s Principal Cyber Advisor, cybersecurity experts estimate that about 90% of cyberattacks could be addressed by implementing basic cyber hygiene and security best practices.