For many government agencies, cybersecurity can be an afterthought, a one-off, single product they add on after the fact to meet regulation or protect from basic hacks. What these agencies don’t realize is that cybersecurity isn’t an afterthought – it’s closely tied to an agency’s core mission. Whether that mission is public health, national security, financial regulation or energy, a strong cybersecurity strategy fuels agency innovation and growth. It reduces costs and lowers risks, while also making agencies more efficient and inventive. It fosters – not inhibits – the development of digital offerings and business models that help agencies operate.

My point is this: security is, at its core, a mission-enabler. So for so many in government, why does it just seem to be an afterthought or something that gets in the way? A big part of the reason is that agencies aren’t placing enough importance on cybersecurity, seeing it as an extra thing they have to do instead of a core component of their IT strategy. Without a holistic, mission-driven cybersecurity strategy that’s integrated throughout your agency, it is going to continue to get in the way.

For example, say your agency gets a new cloud application. If you’re treating cybersecurity as an add-on, you’ll need a new single-use security product that will require a new, secure sign-on – and another password for employees to remember. But if you had planned, budgeted for, and executed on a holistic cybersecurity strategy, you might have invested in a solution like Cisco ISE integration with Microsoft Active Directory and Pin Identity. This would give your employees single sign-on access across multiple applications like Box and Smart Sheet. Because employees only have a single password for everything, it’s easier to remember, increasing productivity and reducing help desk costs. It also keeps your agency even more secure, since employees with multiple sign-ons tend to write their passwords down, which is a huge security risk.

With agencies racing to prove relevancy in the new digital economy, there are more opportunities than ever to be hacked – mobile, cloud, IoT, analytics, etc. At the same time, adversaries are becoming more sophisticated, creating threats that are increasingly pervasive and harder to detect. This new landscape makes it even more important for cybersecurity to meet – not defeat – business purposes.

Here at Cisco, we’re constantly pushing the idea of mission-driven cybersecurity for government agencies. We believe security should be made simple – it shouldn’t be getting in the way, but should play a crucial role in achieving your agency’s mission. We build our industry-leading threat intelligence directly into our solution offerings to help your agency easily get a holistic security approach. Through integration, automation, and openness, our purpose is to help cybersecurity drive the mission for your government agency.