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Covid-19 and its impact have pushed federal workers out from behind the firewall to the edge of the network in home offices. Fortunately, the Department of Veterans Affairs had already embarked on an aggressive IT modernization initiative—providing the framework for making sure remote workers have fast and consistent access to the tools and information they need, wherever the mission takes them.
Deputy Chief Information Officer Dominic Cussatt told a group of industry analysts last month that the VA began to overhaul its services in large part as a result of the immense scope of its responsibilities to America’s 20 million veterans and the nation as a whole. And this makes sense. The world is changing, and federal agencies need to modernize their IT systems to empower their workforce in the “new normal” way of remote working.
Despite the head start, no one at the VA could have known that their entire 400,000-strong workforce would have to go remote in the span of a few days in March 2020. The result has been strain on the department’s cybersecurity posture for distributed users who are doing mission-critical work that requires access to highly sensitive information—often from unsecured home networks and personal devices.
The problem is that cybersecurity attacks against federal agencies are on the rise. Phishing emails, malicious websites, and destructive code hidden in attachments are all used by bad actors as a way into government systems, allowing them to exfiltrate data or damage the ability of agencies to perform their missions. Zero-day attacks may be the most threatening, as the malicious code can lay dormant for months before causing damage or hijacking systems and data.
More endpoints mean a wider attack surface, and security teams have less visibility into teleworkers’ systems. In June, the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee reported concerns from both the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) about “inadvertent spills and disclosures of classified information by employees performing unclassified work at home.”
Increased spending on endpoint security isn’t the answer, however. The VA needs to continue to evolve its security strategies in order to improve scalability and productivity, and ultimately to fulfill its mission to serve veterans and their families.
One option to evolve the VA’s cybersecurity protection is through cloud web isolation. The Menlo Security Cloud Platform, powered by an Isolation Core™, serves as a next-gen secure web gateway by isolating all web and email traffic in a remote browser in the cloud. All content—whether it is deemed malicious or not—is executed far from the end user’s device, and only safe content is rendered on the user’s browser. This isolation approach is especially critical as VA employees continue to work from home during the Covid-19 global pandemic.
With the Menlo Security Cloud Platform, security policies are delivered through the cloud and scale infinitely to follow VA employees wherever they log in—whether it’s at a home office, at a satellite office, or through public Wi-Fi. This zero trust approach delivers uncompromising security against malware, ransomware, and zero-day attacks, which make up the vast majority of threats to essential federal systems and data. Most importantly, Menlo secures web browsing and email without impacting the native user experience. VA employees would be able to access mission-critical tools and information from anywhere—and still be protected by the department’s strict security policies.
The VA has a huge responsibility to the nation’s 20 million veterans, their families, and the country as a whole. It’s critical that federal employees have fast, reliable, and secure access to the tools and information they need, wherever the mission takes them. Download the ebook, “Reimagining Online Security for Federal Agencies,” to learn more about how the VA can use cloud web isolation to honorably serve and support our nation’s veterans.
Menlo Security on Nov 02, 2020
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