Hackers target teleworking feds

cloud-enabled telework 

With federal agency employees working remotely, cybercriminals and foreign actors have a wider, more vulnerable area to attack, according to a senior federal agency acquisition official.

Cybersecurity threats, said Allen Hill, acting deputy assistant commissioner at the Federal Acquisition Service at the General Services Administration, are no longer confined to on-premises systems.

"We're getting attacked at end points. That's where they’re trying to come in now, Hill said during a GovExec webcast on July 30.

Hill touted artificial intelligence and machine learning as tools that can help both manage network demand and enhance network defense.

"COVID was a wake-up call. Some agencies were prepared. Others had to adjust their network infrastructure load," Hill said. "Networks have to adjust to demand in real time, without humans."

Hill said that AI and ML technologies have to be worked into networks, as well as agencies' security operations centers "as much as practically possible" to help speed infrastructure and cybersecurity capabilities.

AI and ML can augment cyberdefenses by making them faster and more responsive. Likewise, he said, bad cyber actors, including criminals and state-sponsored hackers are looking to AI and ML to speed their attacks as technological barriers to getting those tools come down.

"Agencies have to deploy AI defenses first," he said.

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


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