Agencies Embrace Security at Scale in the Cloud

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A new survey sheds light on the sentiment around today's cybersecurity readiness in federal government.

Strong digital defenses are a must for any government agency as they seek to carry out critical missions and protect crucial data assets.

The federal government’s access to and ownership of the country’s most sensitive information makes it a constant target for rising cyberattacks. A Juniper Research study estimates that cybercriminals will steal over 33 billion records by 2023, increasing by 175 percent from the estimated 12 billion records in 2018. Consequently, agencies are under pressure to modernize their IT systems and infrastructure in order to keep their data more secure, yet almost 40 percent of respondents in a Government Business Council survey, in partnership with Google Cloud, said their organization’s cybersecurity achievements are behind what is technically possible given available security tools, and 37 percent of respondents indicate their organization's use of data-based insights in cybersecurity is behind or far behind their other IT functions. 

While government agencies strive to maintain the most effective security posture, simply adopting the latest security tools can prove counterproductive, as resource constraints make it nearly impossible to deploy and maintain a sprawling security infrastructure. 

“When you look at the digital landscape right now: What does threat intelligence even mean for an organization?” notes Scott Fleming, Google Cloud’s head of Google’s public sector professional services practice. In order to advance faster than the threat, Google sees the role of technology as a way to provide a comprehensive view of security at every level, from infrastructure to applications and devices, as well as employees. 

“Currently, a lot of security architecture for government is legacy and band-aids,” says Dan Prieto, a strategic business executive at Google Cloud. “It’s complex and heterogeneous, making it difficult to gain insight into the full digital environment.” Oftentimes, muddled metrics hinder insight into what security tools are working and what tools are not, giving in to the tendency to accrete more tools along with more costs. To that end, according to the GBC survey, 80 percent of military and government respondents said they aren’t aware how much their organizations spend on security tools nor have insight into the security processes on a yearly basis.

In order to safeguard IT environments cost-effectively, government leaders are turning to comprehensive cloud platforms that can adapt to ever-changing threats with best-in-class security and machine learning capabilities. Implementing cloud tools gives agencies the ability to analyze threat data and establish a more agile, sophisticated and foolproof cybersecurity posture. 

Cloud capabilities boost cybersecurity, among other benefits 

Google Cloud offers defense in-depth security at global scale to protect critical applications and sensitive data. Agencies have full visibility into their security state throughout Google Cloud and across their applications, making it easier to prevent, detect and respond to threats. Google Cloud security tools such as Access Transparency ensures government users know who's accessing their data, and logs what, when and why Google employees are granted access to certain data. 

Some of the most innovative state and local governments are creating specific agencies to enforce cloud-based cyberdefense in order to keep communities safe. Using Google Cloud, New York City Cyber Command built a technical fortress to secure the city with the ability to process billions of events a day in order to stay ahead of digital threats. “Cybersecurity is a public safety issue,” says Colin Ahern, New York City Cyber Command’s deputy chief information security officer for Security Sciences. “Not just the critical services and infrastructure, but the very livelihood of our citizens depends on a well-functioning internet. The government owes you tools so that you can lead safer digital lives online.” Learn more about how New York City Cyber Command is keeping the city safe with Google Cloud. 

Remaining ahead of evolving cybersecurity threats requires on a solid security foundation. Google Cloud provides government organizations and commercial entities alike with a reliable secure-by-design infrastructure, built-in protection and global network that Google uses to protect their information, identities, applications and devices.

“As we continue to launch new products on our cloud, we plan to continue to work with customers and regulators to include additional services within our authorization, granting agencies access to the most cutting edge technology,” says Arthur Deane, a Google Cloud strategic business executive in security and compliance. “That allows agencies to leverage every aspect of the platform’s solutions.” 

Modern technologies like the cloud can also help in attracting and retaining top talent in the public sector -- a need that’s critical to the federal government. If government agencies are to appeal to the younger technology-bred workforce, then they need to modernize their hiring image and promote their cloud capabilities like machine learning, artificial intelligence and automation. There are entirely new and exciting ways for government leaders to make mission impact and the young workforce can be the ones empowered to lead the charge forward. 

“Advanced cloud security capabilities make it easier to prevent, detect and respond to threats across the government enterprise, so security leaders can focus their time on meeting needs across mission areas and objectives,” Fleming says.