Adaptive Networks Are Key To Modernizing Federal Cybersecurity Defenses
I spoke about some of the top IT modernization issues that federal CIOs are facing in my last blog. In that discussion, cybersecurity was identified as one of seven technologies that will enable modernization that actually results in changing how government agencies meet their missions and deliver services.
When it comes to defending against cyberattacks, the enemy doesn’t look like it used to. The threat landscape has become a fast-moving, shape-shifting, amorphous menace that can strike from anywhere in cyberspace as well as from any real-world locale. To operate effectively, military, intelligence, and other government organizations need a network with the same flexible properties. Achieving this flexibility should be a key goal for any IT modernization program.
Government agencies and the military services already have access to many of the tools they need to provide real-time situational awareness to teams in the field as well as at the edge of the network. The challenge is to have a network that can make those tools work together while providing essential security to all the devices and data. Adaptive networking provides automated, programmable networks that are capable of configuring, monitoring, and maintaining themselves while adapting to changing requirements.
Last week at the Digital Government Institute’s annual 930gov conference, we talked with attendees about today’s enterprise networks and how they need to be built to work with emerging technologies that will allow agencies to really transform. In order to implement an adaptive networking solution as part of an agency’s IT modernization program, the new network must have intelligent analytics and automated processes. This can best be achieved with:
- A programmable infrastructure that delivers real-time data about network performance and vulnerabilities, which lets agencies address any problems proactively and allocate resources appropriately.
- An analytics layer that uses machine learning to analyze performance data and more accurately predict network problems and threats.
- And a software control and automation layer that uses software-defined networking technologies and multi-domain service orchestration to simplify network management and service delivery across multi-vendor, multi-domain hybrid networks.
Additionally, adaptive networking can deliver router-to-router and machine-to-machine communications in an infrastructure that sidesteps vendor lock-in and reliance on purpose-built hardware. It avoids single points of failure for the network. And it provides scalable functionality — whether expanding or contracting — all the way to the application layer.
The adaptive networking solution comes in the physical shape of an appliance, but its programmable software allows it to adapt as circumstances demand. The hardware sets the limits and the software defines the behavior.
Of course, any network is only as good as its security, which can get complicated with the myriad of devices — including handheld communication devices, cameras, and sensors connected to the Internet of Things — and the growing sophistication of cyberattacks.
CenturyLink uses the flexibility of adaptive networking configurations to manage the network’s cybersecurity functions and protect important data. It changes the network configuration from being static to a dynamic environment, which helps level the playing field given the ever-changing cyber threats we face.
All modern networks need to be constructed with security built in from the beginning if we hope to thwart today’s sophisticated cyberattacks. And when adaptive networks are included as part of an IT modernization program, they increase an agency’s visibility into components and network activity, thus providing a more comprehensive view of the threat landscape.
Communications also need to be protected by high-level end-to-end encryption that locks down data without causing a drag in performance or a hike in costs. An adaptive network’s distributed design moves the defense out to the edge and closer to the source of threats, allowing the network to fight fire with fire and defeat even the most advanced cyberattacks leveled against it.
Adaptive networks can provide better visibility combined with the speed of automation, AI-fueled analysis, and solid security protections that allow agencies to be more proactive in defending their networks and data and often better positioned to respond to an attack.
The ultimate goal is to provide a network that lets agencies focus on their jobs without worrying about network performance. A programmable, automated, and secure adaptive network keeps the need for human intervention at a minimum and allows agencies to put the mission first.
You can learn more about adaptive networking and how it can enable mission success by tuning into a recent episode of Government Matters, where I had discussions with government leaders from the Office National Intelligence.
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