Defense and Intel executives urge prioritizing cybersecurity while ditching legacy technologies

In recent years, federal government modernization has evolved from a useful but optional initiative to a necessary and essential component of defence, intelligence, and national security missions, among others.

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As federal leaders embrace new technologies, methodologies, and practices to stay ahead, they are also uncovering new challenges, information technology gaps, and digital ecosystem needs to address.

One such challenge that has emerged in recent years is the dismantling – sometimes referred to as “sunset” – of outdated legacy technologies and systems that are replaced with new systems.

“We’re very focused on bringing new technologies into use and not much on phasing out old technologies that don’t work very well,” he said. Gary Buchananchief information security officer for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, during a panel discussion at GovCon Wire’s Second Annual Defense and Intelligence Forum: IT Modernization.

Buchanan warned that during this interim period — when old technologies are shut down and new ones are introduced — systems can be left more vulnerable to security threats, and organizations should employ enhanced cybersecurity practices in order to avoid attacks and ease the transition.

“We need to have a plan to get rid of our old hardware, old operating systems and old software. But in case you can’t get rid of it immediately, or while you’re working on your plan and that it remains vulnerable and exposed, we need to better isolate this equipment and increase surveillance of it. …knowing that it is our weak underbelly,” Buchanan shared.

For the U.S. Marine Corps, management already has a plan in place to reduce IT redundancies, eliminate inactive or unnecessary systems, and better understand what is on its networks as it pursues more robust cybersecurity. .

Deputy Director of USMC and Deputy CIO of IC4, Renata Spink, said the service branch’s network modernization plan outlines “how we divest from items that are on the network that are no longer in use or no longer valid.” Spinks also explained that task forces are in place to ensure this work is done and that Marine Corps priorities, particularly around cybersecurity, are met.

Now, the Marine Corps is focusing on lessons learned from recent cyberattacks and major breaches, like Log4j, that have highlighted the urgent need for better visibility into service branch networks.

“Log4j really shook us up a bit more than SolarWinds,” Spinks said. “While we focused on Log4j, we really had to look at the technology we had in place for asset visibility.”

Spinks stressed the importance of not being “married to a single supplier,” explaining that a broad base of industry partners can help government agencies and military branches better understand their own priorities and implement them in a meaningful way. highly secure.

Ian Fowlie, head of enterprise information technology engineering for the Defense Intelligence Agency, agreed with his fellow panelists, saying “cyber threat mitigation is a must” for the DIA, and that A multi-vendor approach will help the intelligence community achieve a more secure, ‘infrastructure independent’ future as it migrates to the cloud.

“We really don’t want to be put in a position by our partners to have to rebuild applications and other capabilities over time, whether on-premises or in the cloud,” Fowlie explained.

“We are looking for vendors who can take advantage of a truly infrastructure-agnostic environment. And where the industry can help us personally is either with containerization as we understand it today or with future next-gen capability, and how best to use that containerization so that we can maximize the benefits of a multi-cloud environment from both an efficiency standpoint and an efficiency perspective,” he added.

Learn more about IT Modernization from the Department of Defense’s perspective at GovCon Wire DoD 2023: Digital Modernization Forum January 12. Lisa Costa, head of technology and innovation for the US Space Force, is scheduled to deliver a keynote address. register here to reserve your spot today!

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