Keep Pace with the Ever-Changing Threat Landscape

If there is one constant in the world of cybersecurity, it’s that nothing stays the same. As the way people and government agencies use the Internet continues to evolve, cyberthreats change to adapt.

A recent report from Akamai clearly outlines the impact of these changes. The report shows that between Q1 2016 and Q1 2017, total web application attacks across the globe increased by 35 percent. Web application attacks on the United States, currently the top source country for that class of attacks, increased by 57 percent. There is somewhat of a silver lining, though. During the period between Q4 2016 and Q1 2017, there was a 20 percent increase in attacks sourcing from the U.S.

The news is slightly better for Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks. During the period between Q1 2016 and Q1 2017, total DDoS attacks decreased by 30 percent, infrastructure layer attacks decreased by 28 percent, and attacks greater than 100 Gbps decreased by 89 percent. Despite these numbers, however, DDoS threats continue to proliferate. They often spawn from existing attacks. One example is Mirai, which spawned other botnet families.

“With the ever-increasing toolset available to hackers such as malicious stressor sites, DDoS attacks can overwhelm an organization’s web services,” says Anthony Lauro, a senior enterprise security architect at Akamai.

For the federal government, the stakes could not be higher. Despite significant progress, many agencies have a long way to go before they can be considered fully secure. According to the 2017 U.S. State and Federal Government Cybersecurity Report, government agencies’ networks are less secure than those in other sectors. Networks can be insecure for many reasons; including open ports, misconfigured or insecure SSL certificates, or database vulnerabilities.

The report found when compared to other industries, government agencies and organizations had particular problems with endpoint security and malware. Timeliness applying patches to operating systems, services, applications, software, and hardware was also an issue.

Not all federal agencies are at the bottom of the list, though. According to the report, the Secret Service, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Internal Revenue Service, and Federal Reserve are doing well with cybersecurity defense.

It’s important to follow a security framework that defines current organizational needs and meets current federal requirements, such as NIST’s Cybersecurity Framework. The NIST framework consists of:

  • the framework core (a set of cybersecurity activities, desired outcomes, and references common across critical infrastructure sectors)
  • the framework profile (an agency’s desired cybersecurity outcome)
  • framework implementation tiers (what stage the agency has reached in achieving compliance with the framework)

Remaining vigilant by implementing the right strategies and adopting best practices is the best way for agencies to stay on top of the continuously evolving threat landscape. Choosing a security platform that redirects inbound traffic to centers where “bad” traffic is cleaned and attacks are mitigated is a strong first step. This approach protects the DNS, website, and overall infrastructure.