Government Solutions

Meeting Cybersecurity Monitoring Challenges Head-On: What Federal Agencies and Government Contractors Need to Know

Scott Parker
by Scott Parker
category Government Solutions

United States government agencies and the subcontractors that serve them have long been a prime target for the world’s most sophisticated cyberattacks. There are more than 430 distinct departments, agencies, and subagencies within the U.S. government, employing millions of Americans and supporting tens of millions of devices. From highly sensitive classified information to cyber-physical systems comprising parts of the nation’s critical infrastructure, government agencies are responsible for protecting many information assets that are highly coveted by nation-state level adversaries.

These attackers continue to improve their tactics and techniques, and they’re faster than ever before. According to the 2019 Global Threat Report published by Crowdstrike, the quickest-moving adversarial groups are the Russian nation-state actors, code-named “Bears.” They’re able to achieve a “breakout time”—the amount of time that elapses between the initial compromise of an endpoint device and when the attacker begins moving laterally across the network—of 18 minutes and 49 seconds. This means that federal contractors and agencies, along with the technology integrators who manage and protect their IT infrastructures and security operations centers (SOCs), have an ever-narrowing window of time in which to detect, respond to, and remediate adversarial activities before critical assets are at risk. Being able to make speedy decisions about what merits a response is key.

The common denominator for all SOCs: monitoring is broken

When have you ever heard someone say “I love and have total confidence in our security monitoring?” More commonly, you’ll hear: “If I have to respond to one more false positive, I think I’ll……”

This problem is not unique to federal agencies and other government entities. Every large-scale and mature security operations program faces the same issue. Over the years, the number of tools and platforms running in SOCs has increased as organizations are tempted to try out the latest and greatest new technologies. The eventual result is tool sprawl—SOCs have morphed into complex technology stacks with many overlapping features. Security analysts must navigate a mire of alerting sensors and infrastructure causing overwhelming alert fatigue. Humans are capable of focusing only on the most obviously “critical” alerts. It has become impossible for almost all SOCs to detect, identify and protect within the 18 minute and 49 second window.

Many government entities are again looking to streamline and optimize their solution stacks and are seeking lean, efficient, interoperable tool sets that employ intelligent decision automation to speed detection and improve visibility while reducing monitoring overhead.

Increasing security monitoring effectiveness trumps all other concerns

For federal agencies, government departments, and contractors handling classified or sensitive but unclassified (SBU) information, protecting high-value data is of paramount importance. Unfortunately, many of the systems and processes in place in today’s security operations programs fall short.

Even in the best-staffed or contractor-supported SOCs, security monitoring cannot keep pace with the evolving tactics of sophisticated adversaries. Their stealth makes it nearly impossible to pick out the signs of their presence in the midst of the millions if not billions of alerts that security teams are bombarded with on a daily basis.

The need for intelligent, automated SOC monitoring decisions that can detect, triage and aid in response has never been greater. It’s incumbent upon government agencies and integrators to find and deploy innovative cybersecurity and SOC analyst tools that can change the game and give the advantage to the defenders at long last.

Significantly lowering operational expenditures (OPEX) for monitoring is another major benefit of intelligent decision automation

Along with increased speed and accuracy, a major advantage of employing decision automation technology is the significant cost savings in OPEX.

All agencies are looking for ways to save money, or trying to redirect funds towards more useful initiatives. Government agencies that employ intelligent decision-making secops automation will find that their need for Tier 1 and Tier 2 analysts can be dramatically reduced. This gives them the freedom to make decisions about how best to use the resources they’ve saved.

If you’re competing to win government contracts that include security monitoring services, you undoubtedly are well aware of how challenging it can be to find and maintain the skilled staff you’ll need to maintain the service level you promised to an agency. The average security analyst’s salary is $95,510. Throw in the need for Secret/Top Secret (TS)/Sensitive Compartmented Information (SCI) clearances and the costs skyrocket. In the future, awards are going to go to the early adopters who were quick to recognize the huge value inherent in this new category of technology.

It’s time for all organizations to reap the benefits of Robotic Decision Automation

We invite you to learn more about how the Respond Analyst can help your team move towards a new paradigm in information security monitoring.

Let us show you how fast and easy it will be to vastly improve your SecOps program.

Contact a member of our sales team to schedule a no-obligation product demonstration today.