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What impact will the Cybersecurity State Coordinator Act have? [Q&A]

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The US is currently considering new legislation that would require each state to appoint a cybersecurity leader.

The proposed Cybersecurity State Coordinator Act has cross-party support and would, say its backers, improve intelligence sharing between state and federal governments and speed up incident response times in the event of a cyberattack.

We spoke to Sachin Bansal who is general counsel at SecurityScorecard to find out more about about what this new law could mean.

BN: What is the main purpose of this legislation?

SB: What this is intended to do is to is to is to create federal funding for a Department of Homeland Security employee whose title would be ‘cybersecurity state coordinator’ and those would be in all 50 states.

The primary responsibilities of the cybersecurity state coordinator would be to become the principal federal advisor to the state on cybersecurity related issues. They would also coordinate with the state and the federal government because the federal government have more resources and more funding when it comes to combating cybersecurity and in preparing for and managing and recovering from cyber attacks.

There are four primary responsibilities in the wake of a cyberattack. One of them is to coordinate with the with the state and federal government. The second is to facilitate the sharing of cyber security related information between both federal and state entities. The third to raise awareness of the federal government’s resources on cyber security, which range from financial resources, technical, and also operational. And then the fourth one is to support training for the business continuity of the state to allow it to recover from an attack. The bill actually enumerates eight responsibilities, but these are the big ones.

BN: How does this fit in with the recently introduced CCPA legislation?

SB: It’s different for two reasons, CCPA is a state law that’s intended to protect the data privacy and security information of California residents. So if your business, wherever you may operate in the United States, if you if you hold information about California residents then you need to have essentially GDPR like compliance with that information. So that means that you need to have internal governance structure, you need to allow them to opt out if they’re receiving information, you need to update your website with cookies consent. I would think about this in terms of a growing amount of legislation at the US federal level on cyber.

BN: Why are these coordinators needed?

SB: Cities and local government have increasingly been the victim of cyber attacks, because they’re underfunded. And they’re not as technically advanced, their infrastructure doesn’t the have technical protections that are necessary and software and other measures that the federal government level has, and so as a result, there is a vulnerable target.

One of the lead sponsors of this bill is Congresswoman Maggie Hassan from New Hampshire. In her state there have been two major attacks by ransomware with 500 computers affected. We’re also in an election year and every state is concerned about vulnerability of their election processes. In New York, for example, the governor actually commissioned a Florida cybersecurity company to make recommendations on election security.

BN: Is this an indication that government at all levels is taking cybersecurity more seriously?

SB: The federal government always has, they got ahead of the curve quite early, they’ve also been much more funded as a result, because cyber resilience can be costly, which is why we’ve seen in private companies their IT budgets have increased as a result.

The sophistication of the attacks keeps getting better and the number of attacks is increasing each year, so it’s expensive. There’s also a lack of expertise in the market to address that it’s a combination of both of human talent that you need as well as the technical and operational side. There’s also an increasing need to budget for third party resources, like SecurityScorecard, to provide an objective, outside in analysis on cyber health. A company needs us, and other tools and people, to really have a robust cyber program and that applies to the federal government as well.

BN: Assuming this passes through all of its stages relatively relatively unscathed, how long is it going to be before it starts to have an impact?

SB: Very quickly, because people are behind it. The talent is already already there within the Department of Homeland Security. So essentially, there is the ability to have the staff and be ready to go. It’s a matter of getting this approved and the funding and then the sourcing people in the States.

I think, operationalizing this is easy and I don’t think that there’s going to be resistance because there are not a lot of bills that get proposed that are bipartisan legislation. Cybersecurity is one thing that both republicans and democrats agree on. They’re very aligned that there’s an urgent need for reducing the impact on state and local governance of cyberattacks. The threats and the attacks to state and local government is one of the most urgent problem facing government entities at all level in the United States.

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The Five Pillars of (Azure) Cloud-based Application Security

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This 1-hour webinar from GigaOm brings together experts in Azure cloud application migration and security, featuring GigaOm analyst Jon Collins and special guests from Fortinet, Director of Product Marketing for Public Cloud, Daniel Schrader, and Global Director of Public Cloud Architecture and Engineering, Aidan Walden.

These interesting times have accelerated the drive towards digital transformation, application rationalization, and migration to cloud-based architectures. Enterprise organizations are looking to increase efficiency, but without impacting performance or increasing risk, either from infrastructure resilience or end-user behaviors.

Success requires a combination of best practice and appropriate use of technology, depending on where the organization is on its cloud journey. Elements such as zero-trust access and security-driven networking need to be deployed in parallel with security-first operations, breach prevention and response.

If you are looking to migrate applications to the cloud and want to be sure your approach maximizes delivery whilst minimizing risk, this webinar is for you.

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Data Management and Secure Data Storage for the Enterprise

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This free 1-hour webinar from GigaOm Research brings together experts in data management and security, featuring GigaOm Analyst Enrico Signoretti and special guest from RackTop Systems, Jonathan Halstuch. The discussion will focus on data storage and how to protect data against cyberattacks.

Most of the recent news coverage and analysis of cyberattacks focus on hackers getting access and control of critical systems. Yet rarely is it mentioned that the most valuable asset for the organizations under attack is the data contained in these systems.

In this webinar, you will learn about the risks and costs of a poor data security management approach, and how to improve your data storage to prevent and mitigate the consequences of a compromised infrastructure.

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CISO Podcast: Talking Anti-Phishing Solutions

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Simon Gibson earlier this year published the report, “GigaOm Radar for Phishing Prevention and Detection,” which assessed more than a dozen security solutions focused on detecting and mitigating email-borne threats and vulnerabilities. As Gibson noted in his report, email remains a prime vector for attack, reflecting the strategic role it plays in corporate communications.

Earlier this week, Gibson’s report was a featured topic of discussions on David Spark’s popular CISO Security Vendor Relationship Podcast. In it, Spark interviewed a pair of chief information security officers—Mike Johnson, CISO for SalesForce, and James Dolph, CISO for Guidewire Software—to get their take on the role of anti-phishing solutions.

“I want to first give GigaOm some credit here for really pointing out the need to decide what to do with detections,” Johnson said when asked for his thoughts about selecting an anti-phishing tool. “I think a lot of companies charge into a solution for anti-phishing without thinking about what they are going to do when the thing triggers.”

As Johnson noted, the needs and vulnerabilities of a large organization aligned on Microsoft 365 are very different from those of a smaller outfit working with GSuite. A malicious Excel macro-laden file, for example, poses a credible threat to a Microsoft shop and therefore argues for a detonation solution to detect and neutralize malicious payloads before they can spread and morph. On the other hand, a smaller company is more exposed to business email compromise (BEC) attacks, since spending authority is often spread among many employees in these businesses.

Gibson’s radar report describes both in-line and out-of-band solutions, but Johnson said cloud-aligned infrastructures argue against traditional in-line schemes.

“If you put an in-line solution in front of [Microsoft] 365 or in front of GSuite, you are likely decreasing your reliability, because you’ve now introduced this single point of failure. Google and Microsoft have this massive amount of reliability that is built in,” Johnson said.

So how should IT decision makers go about selecting an anti-phishing solution? Dolph answered that question with a series of questions of his own:

“Does it nail the basics? Does it fit with the technologies we have in place? And then secondarily, is it reliable, is it tunable, is it manageable?” he asked. “Because it can add a lot overhead, especially if you have a small team if these tools are really disruptive to the email flow.”

Dolph concluded by noting that it’s important for solutions to provide insight that can help organizations target their protections, as well as support both training and awareness around threats. Finally, he urged organizations to consider how they can measure the effectiveness of solutions.

“I may look at other solutions in the future and how do I compare those solutions to the benchmark of what we have in place?”

Listen to the Podcast: CISO Podcast

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