Protecting Government IT Infrastructures With Security Intelligence

June 30, 2020 • The Recorded Future Team

Governments at the federal, state, and local levels are all stretching their IT infrastructure capabilities in order to enable citizens to securely interact online with agency staff members who are working from home. However, these same government agencies are also facing a surge in cybercriminal activity. Threat actors are working overtime to exploit stay-at-home mandates — taking advantage of citizens and government personnel who don’t have strong security measures in place on their home networks.

As reported in the New York Times, cybercriminals have used Social Security numbers, home addresses, and other personal information in recent weeks to assume people’s identities and bilk them out of their federal stimulus checks and state unemployment benefits.

Local government programs that offer online financial support are likely to come under similar attacks. Even before the stay-at-home mandates were issued, agencies were already a top target for cyberattackers. That’s because government budgets often make it difficult for security teams to deploy the necessary technologies and hire the required expertise to create and maintain strong security postures.

Evidence of this comes from two municipal governments that were recently victimized. The City of New Orleans declared a state of emergency after multiple critical services were taken offline, and the City of Riviera Beach, Florida reportedly paid a $600,000 ransom to regain access to its data.

6 Security Intelligence Solutions to Disrupt Adversaries

Recorded Future’s elite security intelligence solutions empower government agencies to solve cybersecurity challenges by empowering them with a comprehensive framework for reducing risk:

  1. Brand Protection: Fake accounts, apps, and websites are often designed to profit from maliciously redirected or accidental traffic. These can also cause major damage to your organization’s reputation. Security intelligence for brand protection empowers you to protect your brand with real-time alerts based on aggregated data from domain registration sites, social media profiles, web pages containing malicious content, and other sources. This makes it easy to find and take down typosquat domains, leaked credentials, bank identification numbers, fake social media accounts, code leaks, and mentions of your brand in dark web forums.
  2. Third-Party Risk Management: Digital connections with suppliers, partners, contractors, agents, temporary workers, and others are now so critical that organizations typically share confidential and sensitive information with hundreds of third parties. Your organization is only as secure as its weakest link, however. It’s estimated that more than half of all organizations have suffered data breaches through vulnerable third parties. Contextualized third-party risk management enables you to make informed decisions and reduce your overall risk with unprecedented, real-time intelligence about the companies in your ecosystem.
  3. Security Operations and Response: Efficient security operations and incident response functions require an ability to quickly identify relevant, previously unknown threats and respond quickly. To make fast, confident decisions based on external threat indicators, security teams need those indicators to be automatically correlated with internal threat data in real time and at scale across vast amounts of data and without any manual research.
  4. Threat Intelligence: Threat intelligence is vital to an effective security strategy. It combines knowledge, data, and context to enable you to prevent or mitigate cyberattacks. Machine learning and automation make it possible to aggregate data in real time from open, closed, and technical sources. These technologies then provide searchable context on who is attacking you, their motivations and capabilities, and the indicators of compromise to look for in your systems — so you can make informed and timely decisions.
  5. Vulnerability Management: Vulnerabilities put your organization at risk of attack — and with thousands of critical new vulnerabilities emerging each year, it’s impossible to patch everything, everywhere. Vulnerability management from Recorded Futute scores risks based on real-time exploitation trends to give security teams the context they need to make fast, confident decisions when prioritizing patches and preventing attacks.
  6. Geopolitical Risk: Security teams need timely and contextual intelligence to defend against and respond to attacks against executives and physical entities. Recorded Future’s geopolitical risk module accelerates critical decision making with contextual OSINT data on geopolitical threats and trends. This empowers you to protect your people and assets, and understand shifting dynamics in the geographic areas that matter to your organization.

Security intelligence gives government agencies the tools they need to expose unknown threats and gain access to information that enables better decision-making on proactive and reactive security measures. By producing a common understanding of external and internal threats as well as risks related to constituents and third-party partners, Security intelligence accelerates risk reduction across government agencies’ entire security ecosystems.

Security Intelligence in Action: 4 Government Use Cases

Security intelligence enables security teams at government agencies to prioritize their time and resources so they can focus on activities that have the greatest impact on real-world cyber risk. Here are four examples:

  1. Assessing the Threat Landscape: Security intelligence delivers critical insights into a government agency’s threat landscape so security teams can accurately assess the risk posed by different threat actor groups and attack vectors. This intelligence streamlines processes and aligns security resources around defending against the most relevant risks. Security teams can also identify gaps in their security programs, make better hiring decisions, and determine how and where to invest limited security resources.
  2. Identifying Relevant Threats: Government security teams can easily get overwhelmed by the volume of security alerts they receive each day — and a lot of time can be wasted while eliminating false positives. By applying security intelligence tools, teams are able to identify genuine threats on mission-critical systems and accelerate their threat identification capabilities by as much as 10X.
  3. Gaining Threat Context: After identifying relevant cyber threats, context is essential to enable rapid prioritization of the highest-risk incidents. Security intelligence empowers incident response teams to identify their most pressing threats so they’re able to triage and remediate them promptly and effectively.
  4. Prioritizing Patching Efforts: Vulnerabilities don’t all pose the same level of risk. With limited staff, government organizations have an especially strong need to prioritize their patching efforts. Security intelligence enables the identification of vulnerabilities that are actively exploited or included in exploit kits. Security teams are then able to ensure their time and resources are allocated to patching the highest-risk systems first.

Applying the security intelligence use cases mentioned above enables government agencies to defend their brand reputations and maintain trust with constituents and partners. They can even share intelligence with citizens and third parties to help them protect their sensitive information.

A Way to Improve Citizen Services

As cybercriminals increasingly turn their attention to the government sector, under-resourced security teams need to more efficiently identify, prevent, and respond to attacks on their digital assets and their citizens’ private information. Speedy security operations that enable systems to function normally and recover quickly from any attacks are critical. Security intelligence empowers federal, state, and local governments to take on any security challenge.

Agencies can also use online tools more securely to collaborate and leverage cutting-edge technologies like the cloud, IoT, AI, and mobile. Gaining these capabilities will further enhance digital transformation efforts and improve on the services agencies can deliver to citizens.

Start making your move toward security intelligence today — download the second edition of “The Threat Intelligence Handbook” to find out how security intelligence provides a comprehensive approach to reducing risk.

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