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Why the Future of Freedom, and Secure Communications, Is in the Cloud

- July 2, 2018 - 4 Comments

We enjoy a wonderful array of freedoms in our nation. But with the ever-shrinking news cycle and flurry of daily life, that fact is often ignored. It’s easy to forget that our freedoms started with thousands of farmers, small business owners, laborers, and other colonists seeking self-governance. Together, they formed an army that slowly but surely helped secure that vision. Yet something that is often overlooked is that trusted and reliable communications were an essential part of their success.

Why Secure Communications Are Critical to National Defense

There’s an old saying that an army marches on its stomach, and I would have to agree. Especially in the 1770s. But as the Continental Army fought for our freedoms, they also marched on something else just as important: secure communications. Back then it was wax seals and secret compartments, or coded letters plus an occasional use of invisible inks (learn more here). Without that capability, they wouldn’t have gotten very far, and their efforts would have failed.

HCS_Coded_Message

Times have changed, but the need for secure communications in the military hasn’t. It’s even more critical today as mobile devices grow in use on the battlefield and our enemies grow in sophistication. As a result, secure cloud-hosted communications will play an increasingly important role in advancing missions for the Department of Defense (DoD).

But secure communications are also important on a more personal level, especially with our public sector team at Cisco. Since we are in the tech industry, you might think we live at the office 24/7, eating cold pizza, sleeping head down on our keyboards, and waking to work a new day in the same clothes. It’s not exactly like that. Far from it, actually. The truth is, we go home to families at the end of the day. Families just like yours and those of our military personnel. Families that we cherish and work hard to provide for; and desperately want to keep safe from the evil in this world. That’s why we take securing communications so seriously at Cisco.

How to Secure Cloud-Hosted Communications

HCS_secure_communications_military

To gain some more clarity on the subject, we recently reached out to our colleague Adelaide O’Brien, research director for IDC Government Insights. We asked her to compile her thoughts into a special report, available here. In it, she provides insight that every government agency IT leader should consider when securing our nation’s cloud-hosted communications. Here are a few opportunities the report highlights:

  • Take stock of your current policies and standards. Lack of documented standards is a concern as effective management of data centers and multicloud architectures requires clear IT service definitions and policies, including standard configurations, service-level agreements (SLAs), security, and governance, to ensure consistent service delivery and service levels.
  • Consider the cloud first. Agencies should be architecting continuity, disaster recovery, compliance, and security on cloud-first platforms and shifting workloads to the most appropriate commercial IT solutions. IDC predicts that traditional solutions will migrate to cloud, allowing a pay-as-you-use approach.
  • Remember customer service. Ask yourself, how will software-as-a-service (SaaS) strategies affect government end-users? Citizens expect a more holistic understanding of their needs and eligibility for various government services and benefits. When asked by IDC’s Industry IT and Communications Survey to rank cloud’s importance to key functions, almost 30% of government respondents put customer service at the top of the list, followed by IT (26%) and operations (17%).

As you pause to remember the sacrifices made by the Continental Army and those that followed, also take a moment to remember the value of secure communications in securing that victory, and many others, in the past 242 years. Armies will always march on their stomachs. But where they will end up, they don’t always know. So the secure and encrypted connection they enjoy on base needs to stay secure and encrypted as they move from barracks to chow line . . . on to a transport, then to the battlefield. And home again.

Read the full IDC report here:

Secure Cloud-Hosted Communication and Collaboration Solutions Enable AgencyMission Effectiveness

 

 

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4 Comments

    Kenn, Thanks for the link to the Atlantic's article "The Founding Fathers Encrypted Secret Messages, Too." Thanks also for the link to the IDC's paper "Secure Cloud-Hosted Communication and Collaboration Solutions Enable Agency Mission Effectiveness" that provides answers to Cisco-posed questions regarding cloud use and cloud security.

    • Glad to help Vincent. At Cisco Government blogs, we like to think of ourselves as educators first, passing on industry information or unique insights that can help spur creativity among our readers. By unleashing our creativity individually and in a group setting (we called them charrettes back in my urban design days), new and unexpected takes on technology can emerge. And who knows just where that will lead.

    Securing the future is more important these days almost every part of our lives is not driven and governed by data and digital world. Freedom relies on securing privacy of individuals and organizations together

    • Thanks for your comment Anilbabu. It is true, with digital transformation comes great opportunities for increased freedoms (freedom of creativity, speech, and innovation). Yet we must always safeguard individual privacy for without it, the freedoms so many died to gift us, could be exploited.