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New Year’s Resolutions for CIOs

As 2016 begins, people all around the world are making resolutions to improve themselves in the coming year. While you might be dedicating yourself exercising more and eating healthier, I encourage everyone in government IT to think about resolutions you can make to help your organizations better embrace digital transformation.

In no role is this more necessary than the Chief Information Officer (CIO), a position that has changed in recent years and continues to evolve. Instead of just overseeing technical assistance across a department or agency, many government CIOs now serve as a partners who help leadership develop the strategies and processes to accomplish the organization’s mission. And in 2016, the CIOs’ role in decision-making processes will only get larger as government agencies at all levels—federal, state and local—look to better integrate technology to enhance the mission, whether it’s improving citizen services at home or enhancing operations for our defense and intelligence agencies.

In order to fully embrace that responsibility, CIOs should consider making some resolutions for themselves and their job so they can keep up with the latest trends and ensure their organization is reaping the benefits of new technology.

Our own distinguished engineer Kapil Bakshi recently wrote an article on Nextgov about this topic, outlining four main resolutions that government CIOs should consider making in 2016. These resolutions are:

  1. Embrace hybrid
  2. Take Analytics to the next level
  3. Invest in advanced threat detection
  4. Unleash “Fast IT”

Check out the article here to learn more about the details of each resolution and why they are so critical for a CIO to consider in the coming year. By embracing these and other resolutions, CIOs and the larger government IT community will be able to harness the best technology solutions and increase the efficiency, security and agility of their organizations.

Good luck and Happy New Year!

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Advanced Malware Protection Can Help Keep Defense Agencies’ Networks Secure

It seems like these days, you can’t read the news without seeing something about a cyberattack or data breach. While the digital economy and the Internet of Everything (IoE) are creating huge opportunities for value creation in both the public and private sectors, they also create huge opportunities for security breaches. With an expanded attack surface created by the IoE, cybercriminals look to take advantage of the influx of new devices and increasing network complexity. While a large cyberattack on a private company might be painful financially, a hack on some of our nation’s defense agencies could hurt much more.

The Department of Defense (DoD) is a high-priority target for hackers of all types, but especially for advanced malware creators who are seeking to steal intellectual property, capabilities and strategies from the U.S. government.  These threats aren’t only isolated incidents from hacktivist groups; they often come from other advanced nation-states. The protection of military information and network assets is a part of national security and the DoD needs the tools to protect itself from cyberattacks.

One way the DoD and other agencies are looking to better protect their networks is by using advanced malware protection (AMP) tools. AMP helps detect “bad” files as they move across a sensor and flags the files for removal so that they don’t corrupt the rest of the network. Cisco’s AMP services are industry-leading; it was named a leader in Gartner Magic Quadrants for Intrusion Prevention Systems in 2014 and improved its position in 2015. It was also tested during NSS Labs’ rigorous next-generation firewall testing and received the highest effectiveness rating possible.

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Figure 1. Gartner’s 2015 Magic Quadrant for Intrusion Prevention Systems

Cisco AMP is unique from its competitors in that it can place sensors throughout the network. Unlike most companies’ sensors, which must be attached to the firewall, Cisco’s sensors are compatible with a large variety of devices and platforms, such as switches, virtual machines and the cloud. By allowing for sensors in other places in the network, Cisco AMP casts a wider and finer net to catch malware.

Additionally, Cisco AMP tracks files throughout the whole network. For most advanced malware systems, a file is only flagged as good or bad when it crosses a sensor. But with Cisco AMP, the file is tracked throughout and continually evaluated. That means if a file was initially tagged as good but more information appears, Cisco AMP can detect that anywhere in the network, flag it, and have the file removed. Continuously monitoring files enables security managers to get rid of corrupted files rapidly – which means the network can recover more quickly as well.

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Figure 2. Point-In-Time Detection vs. Cisco’s Continuous Detection

Another way that Cisco AMP sets itself apart from other security options is through its ability to trace a file’s path and remove other files it has potentially corrupted. The corrupted file is patient zero, but CiscoAMP can find every other patient it touched to ensure the threat is completed eradicated.

As DoD networks become increasingly complex, with more devices requiring access from remote areas, the capabilities Cisco AMP solutions provide will be even more important to ensure these critical networks are secure. No matter how it is utilized, Cisco AMP can help the Department of Defense and other public sector agencies defend their sensitive information from cyberattacks. Click here to learn more about Cisco AMP solutions.

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Thank You to Our Veterans

Veterans, Thank you.

Thank you for your service to our country. Thank you for the sacrifices you make for all of us. And thank you for our freedoms.

With all of you, past and present, we have an amazing country in which to live, liberties many others do not experience, and the opportunities many others are not afforded. You’ve made this great country possible from those that dreamed what it could be.

As a National Honoring, every November 11th at exactly 11am, a color guard comprised of a member from each of the military branches, at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in the Arlington National Cemetery salutes and honors our Veterans. It’s a beautiful ceremony and true dedication to our Veterans.

So today, I ask that we all take the 11 o’clock hour and stop checking off our ‘to do list’, hang up the phone, put down our computer and honor, thank, and support our Veterans any way you can.

It does not have to be big; the littlest of gestures often have a far greater impact. Buy a cup of coffee for a Veteran. Walk over to your fellow co-worker who happens to be a Veteran and thank them for their service. Maybe find a veteran cause such as Wounded Warriors or Operation HomeFront and make a donation.

And while I know many of you already keep our service men and women in mind and honor them daily, today is their day, like a birthday, so let’s make it special.

As a company, supporting Veterans is a key priority of our culture and employees. We are involved in and have many wonderful programs that focus on supporting our Veterans.

This November 19th (November 13th in San Jose), we are hosting a Veterans Career Transitioning Day across various Cisco locations: San Jose, CA, San Antonio, TX, Research Triangle Park, NC, Englewood, CO, and Washington DC. Local employee groups and some of our supporting Partners are holding this event to provide Veterans with information and resources to help them transition from service into civilian life.

Please join us for this amazing event in supporting our Veterans: Veterans Career Transitioning Day.

Thank you again to all of America’s Veterans.

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How IoE Helps the Navy Connect the Open Ocean

The Internet of Everything will have far-reaching effects in a multitude of industries over the next few years. There will be an estimated 50 billion devices and objects connected to the internet by 2020. The movement toward an increasingly connected world is already transforming operations in the retail, finance and healthcare industries. The government is also seeking ways to harness the potential benefits of IoE, and one sector that anticipates gaining significant operational benefits from IoE is defense.

My colleague Cindy DeCarlo gave an excellent overview of how IoE is facilitating the vision of net-centric warfare. Mike Hodge further highlighted this transformation, emphasizing the benefits IoE can bring specifically to new smart and connected bases around the world. Today, I want to dig a little deeper and call attention to one branch of the military that is taking advantage of IoE to operate more efficiently and increase operational success in multiple areas: the Navy.

IoE enables the Navy to use technology to increase automation, improve multi-tasking, reduce workload and enhance effectiveness in four main areas: Read More »

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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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