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Security Is a Top Priority for Feds and Should Be Moving Forward

It’s no secret that security is top priority for the federal government. It seems like every week we are hearing about a new threat, hack, or breach that has hit an agency. In just the past few weeks, we’ve heard about significant breaches that have resulted in both citizen and federal employee information being compromised.

Obviously, these kinds of attacks are putting agencies on alert. This is especially important as organizations continue to embrace new technologies and polices to improve operations and efficiency. As technology investments bring great new capabilities to government, it’s imperative that IT managers design security in from the very beginning.

I recently discussed this topic in an article published in Federal Times. The article explored how the Internet of Things (IoT) and Internet of Everything (IoE) need cybersecurity protection. In addition to a projected $4.6 trillion in value for global public sector by 2022, the enhanced connectivity offered by IoE technologies also creates an increased need for network security. For example, while BYOD programs are tremendously valuable, these initiatives also create a larger surface area for potential attacks by adding devices to the networks.

With billions of devices expected become connected over the next five years, it’s important that agencies have a plan in place to address their security needs. In general, agencies should focus their efforts on creating a cybersecurity strategy that is visibility-driven, threat-focused and platform-based. As more individuals and devices need network access, having real-time visibility becomes even more critical to gaining insight on surrounding threats and identifying system vulnerabilities. Also, presuming the network has already been breached it can help agencies be more proactive their approach. And lastly, a platform-based approach will provide scalability and flexibility required to address a variety of threats and reduce complexity through centralized management.

The number of ways IoE can make our lives better and our organizations more efficient depends mainly on our ability to think of new ways to use the technology. If we can be confident in the security of IoE, we can be confident developing more applications for it. All organizations should be in a position to ask, “Now that I am confident with my protection, what new things can I develop to save money or time and delight my users?”

Take a look at the Federal Times article for more insights around IoE and cybersecurity, and check out this white paper to learn more about IoE’s impact on public sector.

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Federal Agencies and the Internet of Things

Earlier this week, Federal Computer Week ran an article – “Are agencies really ready for the Internet of Things?” – that discusses the potential challenges government agencies face when implementing the Internet of Things (IoT). The article’s author spoke to Gary Hall, chief technology officer for Federal Defense at Cisco, about these challenges, as well as why federal agencies can’t afford to ignore IoT any longer.

The biggest concern that all organizations have with IoT is the massive scope it involves – there is a huge volume of data being produced and a need to store and process it all. Even just the number of connected devices is expected to explode in the coming years, growing from around 16 billion today to 50 billion by 2020. “Humans can’t deal with the volume of data we’re producing,” Hall said.

All this data means more chances for security breaches as well, which is especially worrying for federal agencies. In this case, awareness is key, as Peter Romness, a business development manager Cisco, spoke about at a recent GovLoop seminar. Romness cautioned that there is no “silver bullet” defense, so agencies must prepare to deal with inevitable hacks. “It’s not a question of if you’re going to get hacked, it’s a matter of when,” he said.

Despite these concerns, IoT experts agree that federal agencies cannot avoid the issue any longer, and if they haven’t already started planning for IoT implementation, they’re behind. Cisco estimates that IoT will generate $4.6 trillion for the public sector over the next 10 years, and agencies that are too wary of potential security issues risk missing out on this value. “This is the next big disruption,” Hall said. “It’s important that we aren’t so afraid of the fear of attack that we don’t realize the value.”

For example, the General Services Administration (GSA) – which manages nearly 10,000 government-owned buildings around the county – is reaping the rewards of its IoT- building management initiative, GSALink. GSA collects almost 30 million data points from sensors throughout its buildings, constantly monitoring everything from light to humidity. Using this data, GSA is able to optimize conditions when workers are present and save on energy costs when buildings are empty. IoT can add significant value like this to all federal agencies – they just have to take advantage of it!

Read more about how IoT can transform the public sector here, and check out more thoughts from Cisco’s experts like Gary Hall on our blog.

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Cisco and Miami-Dade County Seek to Revamp Local Public Transportation Systems

Recently The Economist suggested Miami’s skyline could one day resemble Manhattan. And this could happen sooner than later due to the influx of Latin Americans, as well as Chinese, Europeans and Americans who are moving to Miami, not only to enjoy the weather, but the business opportunities. More than 50 new big towers are in construction right now at the center of Miami.

With the potential for growth in the current environment, transportation services have to be evaluated to ensure that they can serve the expected population, and won’t hinder a community’s expansion efforts.

While the Miami area’s public transportation ridership declined through the challenges of the recession, the accelerated growth that is being experienced now has to be considered as part of the community’s plans to build the Miami of tomorrow. This is why Miami-Dade County officials and Cisco have teamed up to define a strategy that will improve public transportation operations. Collaboratively, the two will begin exploring new operation models, technology and big data. Read More »

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