Renault Ross, Chief Cybersecurity Business Strategist, Symantec Americas Strategic Programs
Across the nation, state CIOs and CISOs find themselves caught in the middle of the best and worst of times, benefitting from the proliferation of mobile devices and IoT, while feverishly trying to fend off the inevitable flood of cyberattacks that pursue them.
IT threats have increased in almost every category from cloud and email to election systems and supply chains, according to Symantec’s 2019 Internet Security Threat Report, which records events from 123 million attack sensors worldwide. Among the findings from 2018:
- More than 70 million records were stolen or leaked due to poorly configured S3 cloud storage buckets;
- Attacks on IoT-connected devices averaged about 5,300 each month; and
- One in 36 mobile devices were found to use high-risk applications.
It’s no wonder that in NASCIO’s 2018 survey, state CIOs said security and risk management are their No. 1 concerns. Increasingly mobile and cloud-centric architectures impose new burdens on state security leaders, not only in the volume of threats, but also in the growing sophistication of them. The cybersecurity landscape today bears little resemblance to that of a decade ago.
As threats have grown and evolved, state leaders have pieced together stop-gap measures, creating a patchwork of fragmented tools that are expensive, difficult to manage and come as we face a widespread shortage of cybersecurity professionals. Two-thirds of organizations have more than 25 cybersecurity products in use, according to a recent industry survey. Managing so many programs, not to mention the enormous growth in endpoints to protect, is nearly impossible for understaffed state government IT teams.
In short, the disjointed approach to digital transformation has become complex – and complexity is the enemy of cybersecurity, inviting hackers into loosely guarded domains.
The answer for state leaders is a holistic approach that unifies cloud and on-premises security and protects across endpoints, networks, applications and clouds. That requires an integrated cybersecurity platform and open architecture, as well as cooperation among security vendors, so that states can access whatever security they need, whenever they need it, and with the peace of mind that all points are being monitored.
This integrated approach should include information protection, threat protection, identity management, compliance and other advanced services, powered by shared intelligence and automation across endpoints, networks, applications and clouds. Integrating so many disparate systems across the enterprise reduces complexity and costs for states.
The proliferation of connected technologies, along with increasing threats and a shortage of cybersecurity workers has created a seismic shift in how states must approach cyber risk management. But with an integrated cyber platform and open architecture, as well as cooperation among security vendors, states can succeed in their efforts.