Last year, for National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, we asked whether 2014 would be the year cybersecurity finally sinks in.
Ironically, just a few weeks after that, the White House disclosed it had been attacked, and a few weeks later the State Department announced it, too, had been breached. The following months saw news of yet further attacks on both government entities -- the U.S. Postal Office, the Internal Revenue Service -- as well as commercial businesses such as Sony and Anthem.
But no news in the federal space received more attention than the Office of Personnel Management hack, the largest known breach of federal personnel data. The devastating data breach compromised 21.5 million current and former federal employees’ records, including 5.6 million fingerprint records.
In the ensuing months, the White House rolled out several initiatives governmentwide to strengthen cyber defenses, including launching a 30-day “cyber sprint” to increase use of two-factor authentication and expanding EINSTEIN 3A intrusion-prevention system across federal agencies.
U.S. Chief Information Officer Tony Scott, who had spearheaded the “cyber sprint,” also said Sept 9. new "serious recommendations" for better securing federal agencies computer networks and responding to cybersecurity incidents would be coming later this fall.
These specific efforts and other less-publicized initiatives aimed at increasing awareness of federal cybersecurity are sorely needed. In recognizing National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, Nextgov will be shining the light on what’s being done in government to raise awareness around cybersecurity and the multitude of challenges federal agencies face.
We will be kicking off this coverage with a project we're very excited about: Aliya Sternstein's nose-close reporting of a squad of code breakers who use their skills for good. Aliya shadowed a white hat hacker team for six months, chronicling their work, struggles and successes.
Aliya is also taking a look at why federal employees need to worry about the Dark Web, the online underworld inaccessible to the uninitiated.
With the Internet of Things being such a hot topic, Mohana Ravindranath will review the federal efforts to protect IoT and see what federal agencies are doing to safeguard this ecosystem of connected devices, data and users.
Hallie Golden will break down cybersecurity terminology and examine the terms most often used -- and abused. She will also take a look at how simple agency practices can be the difference between employees who are knowledgeable about cybersecurity and able to stave off attacks, and those who are not.
These are just a few of the stories we aim to include this month in recognition of National Cybersecurity Awareness Month. Stay tuned for additional coverage from the team.