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
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
COVID-19: Latest Security News & Commentary
Dark Reading Staff 8/14/2020
Researcher Finds New Office Macro Attacks for MacOS
Curtis Franklin Jr., Senior Editor at Dark Reading,  8/7/2020
Lock-Pickers Face an Uncertain Future Online
Seth Rosenblatt, Contributing Writer,  8/10/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
Special Report: Computing's New Normal, a Dark Reading Perspective
This special report examines how IT security organizations have adapted to the "new normal" of computing and what the long-term effects will be. Read it and get a unique set of perspectives on issues ranging from new threats & vulnerabilities as a result of remote working to how enterprise security strategy will be affected long term.
Flash Poll
The Changing Face of Threat Intelligence
The Changing Face of Threat Intelligence
This special report takes a look at how enterprises are using threat intelligence, as well as emerging best practices for integrating threat intel into security operations and incident response. Download it today!
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-4662
PUBLISHED: 2020-08-14
IBM Event Streams 10.0.0 could allow an authenticated user to perform tasks to a schema due to improper authentication validation. IBM X-Force ID: 186233.
CVE-2019-20383
PUBLISHED: 2020-08-13
ABBYY network license server in ABBYY FineReader 15 before Release 4 (aka 15.0.112.2130) allows escalation of privileges by local users via manipulations involving files and using symbolic links.
CVE-2020-24348
PUBLISHED: 2020-08-13
njs through 0.4.3, used in NGINX, has an out-of-bounds read in njs_json_stringify_iterator in njs_json.c.
CVE-2020-24349
PUBLISHED: 2020-08-13
njs through 0.4.3, used in NGINX, allows control-flow hijack in njs_value_property in njs_value.c. NOTE: the vendor considers the issue to be "fluff" in the NGINX use case because there is no remote attack surface.
CVE-2020-7360
PUBLISHED: 2020-08-13
An Uncontrolled Search Path Element (CWE-427) vulnerability in SmartControl version 4.3.15 and versions released before April 15, 2020 may allow an authenticated user to escalate privileges by placing a specially crafted DLL file in the search path. This issue was fixed in version 1.0.7, which was r...