recommended reading

Hackers already are in your network. Now what?

“It is nearly impossible to keep the most sophisticated adversaries out of networks,” Shawn Henry said Monday.

“It is nearly impossible to keep the most sophisticated adversaries out of networks,” Shawn Henry said Monday. // Kristoffer Tripplaar

To Shawn Henry, there are only two types of organizations in the world: Those that know that their networks already have been breached, and those that don’t.

“It is nearly impossible to keep the most sophisticated adversaries out of networks,” said Henry, president of Crowdstrike Services and a former executive assistant director of the FBI dealing with cybersecurity issues.

Henry spoke Monday at Nextgov Prime, a Government Executive Media Group event on technology and the future of government.

Even a concerted effort to apply best practices in protecting networks -- such as firewalls, hard-to-crack passwords and dual factor authentication for access -- isn’t enough to stop advanced intruders, according to Henry. “If you build a 10-foot wall, they’ll bring a 12-foot ladder,” he said.

So what can government agencies do under this scenario? They should “be constantly hunting on the network,” Henry said, in an effort to “create a hostile environment for the adversary.” It’s not just about trying to prevent people from accessing your systems, but seeing if someone who has gained access is trying to extract or change information.

“There are a whole host of things to you can do internally to look for someone trying to get out,” he said.

Speaking at the same Nextgov Prime session, Alan R. Shark, executive director of the Public Technology Institute and an associate professor at Rutgers University, highlighted several beliefs users cling to in assuming they’re secure:

  • I don’t have anything anyone would ever want.
  • I have antivirus software installed.
  • I don’t use Windows.
  • My network has a great firewall.
  • I only visit safe sites.
  • My network administrator is in charge.
  • I’ve had the same password for years and nothing has ever happened.

Shark made the case for training for public employees on cybersecurity best practices. “If people sit back and think technology can save it all, it’s not going to happen,” he said.

Threatwatch Alert

Network intrusion / Software vulnerability

Hundreds of Thousands of Job Seekers' Information May Have Been Compromised by Hackers

See threatwatch report


Close [ x ] More from Nextgov

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • It’s Time for the Federal Government to Embrace Wireless and Mobility

    The United States has turned a corner on the adoption of mobile phones, tablets and other smart devices, outpacing traditional desktop and laptop sales by a wide margin. This issue brief discusses the state of wireless and mobility in federal government and outlines why now is the time to embrace these technologies in government.

  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

  • A New Security Architecture for Federal Networks

    Federal government networks are under constant attack, and the number of those attacks is increasing. This issue brief discusses today's threats and a new model for the future.

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

  • Software-Defined Networking

    So many demands are being placed on federal information technology networks, which must handle vast amounts of data, accommodate voice and video, and cope with a multitude of highly connected devices while keeping government information secure from cyber threats. This issue brief discusses the state of SDN in the federal government and the path forward.

  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.