Blog Post

Prevent IT Security Breaches In Federal Government Environment with Cloud Collaboration Service

You don’t have to be an “insider” to know about all the IT security breaches that have affected the US government in recent years.

The IRS was hacked in 2015 and tax records for 330,000 taxpayers were used to collect bogus refunds. More recently, the Russian hacker Rasputin has breached a total of 63 US and UK universities and US government agencies. Not to mention the 2016 DNC hack that involved the leak of 19,252 emails and 8,034 attachments that rocked the political world.

In one of the biggest cyber-attacks against the US government, hackers took control of the complete personnel files of 4.2 million past and present government employees, along with approximately 5.6 million digital images of government employee fingerprints.

Source: Identity Theft Resource Center

 

In light of the damages caused by these attacks, many federal government agencies are now taking measures to beef up data breach protection — e.g.  by keeping current with the latest software patches, reducing the number of network users with administrative privileges, and broadening the adoption of multifactor authentication.

However, with the rising number of precautions that need to be implemented, it’s getting increasingly difficult for individual federal agencies to have the personnel, resources, and know-how to stay current and keep malicious hackers at bay.

 

IT Security Challenges in Federal Government Environment

Federal government agencies face unique challenges when it comes to IT security:

There are 1.4 million people employed by civilian agencies in 2017. This large number of employees means data protection is susceptible to human error as it’s more likely that someone will make a mistake allowing hackers the opportunity to get into the IT system or letting sensitive documents leave the premises while unprotected and vulnerable.

Source:  Ponemon Institute, “2016 Global Encryption Trends Study,” February 2016.

 

  • Federal agencies are distributed across the country. Electronic documents and information tend to be spread out over a number of servers and locations, making it difficult to implement security measures that meet the highest industry standard.
  • The “Bring Your Own Device” trend means employees are logging into the federal government system with their own devices, sometimes outside of a firewall, passing back and forth sensitive documents which may not be secure. It takes only one employee to forward or share a document with an unauthorized person to cause a ripple effect of releasing confidential documents that could end up in the wrong hands.
  • Agencies need to adhere to a slew of federal regulations, e.g., the Federal Information Processing Standard 140-2, ITAR / Export Control, and the OMB Memorandum M-06-16. Staying current and compliant could be challenging for federal agencies that have limited personnel and resources.

Overcoming IT Security Challenges with Cloud Content Collaboration Service

A more secure way to handle sensitive and confidential information in the federal government environment is to store all data and documents in a secure cloud environment, with the proper policies for use, which employees can access with multifactor authentication.

Users, with the appropriate rights, can access protected emails and documents, and collaborate with others virtually via any mobile or desktop device. Meanwhile, all documents are protected in real-time, whether they’re in transit, at rest, or in use.

Utilizing a centralized system can reduce the cost for individual agencies and offices as they no longer need to set up the infrastructures, spend the resources on day-to-day management, or stay compliant to security standards.

Here are some important features to look for when selecting a cloud collaboration service to ensure that confidential data and documents are protected from breaches.

 

Enterprise Administrator Rights

A secure cloud environment offers optimum data breach protection by allowing access to documents only to users with a private key.

It’s set up such that administrators can determine who can print, forward or edit information, and revoke permissions to access any document instantaneously.

Administrators can also monitor usage and set up alerts for any suspicious activity, which can help identify potential hacking activities before damages are done.

The system applies and enforces security permissions down to the digital content level so data is protected from misuse — even when opened by a recipient who is permitted access. It offers complete transparency on who has viewed, edited, or shared a certain piece of information.

Administrators can also produce reports for management and regulatory reviews to ensure continuous compliance with the various federal guidelines.

 

Endpoint Security

With a large number of federal employees needing to access a system, sometimes on their own devices, it’s critical that breaches are prevented at the device level.

These individual devices are often the most vulnerable since it’s almost impossible for a federal agency to oversee the security and usage of every computer or mobile device owned by employees.

Breaches often happen when individual files are viewed on a device. Endpoint security means that these files are protected when they’re viewed or edited.

Mobile devices are typically more vulnerable, especially when they’re using non-secure Wi-Fi networks. The provider of the cloud collaboration environment needs to bridge the gap between mobile devices and secure content collaboration, such that mobile users can have persistent content protection while leveraging the convenience of mobility to send and receive secure documents.

 

Integration With Cloud-Based Services

Many teams are already using file-sharing services such as Dropbox, Google Drive or OneDrive, and other cloud-computer tools such as Office 365 or MS SharePoint. A cloud content collaboration system should allow the seamless integration of these services so employees can stay productive.

Secure Point-To-Point Messaging

Email communications among employees can expose IT systems to hackers because of the multiple vulnerabilities in the process. When employees email confidential documents, the sensitive information could easily fall into the wrong hands and cause massive damage.

Besides having all documents and information accessible via the cloud environment, agencies can further improve security and eliminate vulnerabilities by replacing email communications with secure point-to-point messaging.

Source: Oracle, “Point to Messaging Domain”

 

Tracking and Analytics

In order to continually improve the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of the system, a cloud collaboration service needs to provide measurement, auditing, tracking and analytics of data content. All interactions with the secure content are captured, so extensive analytics data can be generated for each of these “events” to understand usage patterns.

The analytics will show ROI and user adoption, enabling administrators to better manage people, devices, content, and policy.

With the massive scale and all the moving pieces, it’s a challenge to manage IT security and data breach protection in a federal government environment. It takes specialty knowledge and a dedicated team to ensure that the system is compliant with the latest standards.

That’s why here at GigaTrust™, our team has created GigaCloud™ — the first and only secure email and document protection, consumption, and collaboration service that is an easy-to-use, easy-to-deploy cloud service powered by the Microsoft’s Active Directory Rights Management Services (AD RMS) security ecosystem. Learn more about this fully managed SaaS solution here.