Cybersecurity Awareness: Data Protection & Incident Response Strategies

October 26, 2023
Chuck Brooks Part 2 Cybersecurity Awareness

By Chuck Brooks, President of Brooks Consulting & Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University

As the world of computing undergoes a dynamic transformation, driven by advancements in technology and evolving user demands, the unmistakable shift towards cloud and hybrid cloud environments has become a defining feature of this digital era. As businesses and government bodies of all sizes embark on this transition, ensuring the  of sensitive data becomes a pressing concern.

Understanding the intricacies of cloud security and maximizing its benefits is paramount, especially as workloads increasingly migrate to the cloud, making effective risk management a crucial element in today's digital age.

Part two of this Cybersecurity Awareness blog series sheds light on the critical need for close collaboration with cloud providers to encrypt and protect data, emphasizing the establishment of robust incident response strategies to swiftly tackle potential compromises. 


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Enter the Cloud

Computing is getting closer to the edge as both the public and private sectors quickly move into a cloud and hybrid cloud environment. Data from businesses and government organizations is increasingly moving to cloud and hybrid clouds. 92% of workloads for data processing, according to forecasters, will be in cloud data. Operating in clouds and hybrid clouds has become more appealing as security administrators' top concerns are now where and how data is secured.

It is critical for organizations to collaborate closely with their cloud provider to understand which data needs to be encrypted and protected. An incident response strategy in place is also paramount in case a cloud system is compromised. Although clouds are not intrinsically dangerous, businesses and agencies must understand that to secure their critical data, they must assess the policies and capabilities of their providers.

Utilizing cloud and hybrid clouds reduces costs, speeds up encryption, and allows for transparency, hence decreasing insider risks. From the standpoint of a security administrator, cloud security that is optimized reduces the possibility that hackers would gain unauthorized access to sensitive information.

Public Private Partnerships

Working together, industry and government stakeholders have a successful model that makes sense. Government and business can work together to identify products, coordinate flexible product paths, assess technological gaps, and assist in the creation of scalable structures that will increase productivity and financial accountability. Using Public Private Partnerships (PPP) based on shared R&D, prototyping, and commercialization is a cornerstone of successful cybersecurity. A significant degree of cooperation between the public and commercial sectors is necessary to tackle the obstacles brought about by increasingly complex and advanced cyberattacks.

Industry cannot handle the increasing cyber threats on its own, particularly for small and medium-sized enterprises that do not have the necessary capital to procure and orchestrate security tools and cyber knowledge. One practical way to lessen risks and difficulties is for the government and business community to work together more to address those issues. It is a sensible and tried-and-true risk management methodology. at several places.

The Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Protection Agency (CISA) is effectively managing the collaboration between the government and business. As the primary civilian agency in the government tasked with advising state, municipal, tribal, and business stakeholders on cybersecurity dangers, CISA has assumed a more official and significant role in recent years.

Sharing information about risks and dangers is one of the main purposes of industry and government cooperation. By exchanging this kind of information, industry and government can stay informed about the most recent ransomware, malware, phishing frauds, viruses, and insider threats.  Sharing information also creates working procedures for resilience and lessons learned, which are essential for the success of trade and the prosecution of cybercrimes.


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Safeguarding Vital Infrastructure

Public Private Partnerships are particularly important when it comes to protecting critical infrastructure. More than eighty percent of the vital infrastructure—such as those related to banking and finance, healthcare, utilities, oil and gas, defense, transportation, and education—is held by the private sector and subject to public regulation.

Because of growing threats, government and industry need to continually prioritize safeguarding the critical infrastructure supply chain in both IT and OT systems, as the DHS CISA mission has acknowledged. CISA’s stated role is to coordinate “security and resilience efforts using trusted partnerships across the private and public sectors, and deliver training, technical assistance, and assessments to federal stakeholders as well as to infrastructure owners and operators nationwide.”

Nation states are increasingly focusing on critical infrastructure, as shown by the Colonial Pipeline and other high-profile breach incidents. It is a challenging task to defend infrastructure Industrial Control Systems against cybersecurity threats. Many critical infrastructure networks of them have different access points, legacy systems, and distinct operating frameworks. The cross-pollination of OT and IT operating systems also makes critical infrastructure more challenging to defend.

The recent crisis between Russia and Ukraine has prompted DHS CISA to take "Shields Up" action and strengthened industry-government threat sharing. Regretfully, a combination of OT/IT systems and infrastructure that was created decades ago puts the energy industry, and particularly the grid, at serious risk.

Stay tuned for Part 3 of this Cybersecurity Awareness blog series, where I'll dive into the risky realm of supply-chain networks and how they are becoming a prime target for hackers


About the Author

Chuck Brooks is President and Consultant of Brooks Consulting International with over 25 years of experience in cybersecurity, emerging technologies, marketing, business development, and government relations. He helps Fortune 1000 clients, organizations, small businesses, and start-ups achieve their strategic goals and grow their market share. Chuck also serves as an Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University, teaching graduate courses on risk management, homeland security, and cybersecurity.