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Security experts weigh in on $1 billion U.S. technology modernization fund

The network is the one place where an attacker cannot hide. He can bounce around, and probe and perform reconnaissance, and endpoints may not ever see the assailant laterally moving.

© Digital Journal
© Digital Journal

Following the news about a ransomware attack targeted at a pipeline that provides the least cost with nearly half of its gasoline, which drove an emergency White House meeting to discuss an executive order on strengthening government cybersecurity.

From this, the U.S. Technology Modernization Fund is spending $1 billion to upgrade technology systems, including cybersecurity projects.

To understand the ramifications, Digital Journal spoke with Michael Rezek (VP of Cybersecurity Strategy at Accedian) and Sarosh Shahbuddin (Director of Product at voice biometric company Pindrop). The focus is with considering the key technologies to invest in to effectively combat increasingly sophisticated nation-state hacks.

Looking at network security, Michael Rezek explains: “The move to the cloud, and the distribution of IT assets across multiple clouds, is driving a massive demand in private connectivity. The more applications are network dependent, the greater the attack surface and number of attack vectors there are to the critical data these applications move across IT environments.”

He adds: “The speed at which this is taking place very often creates a “function over diagnostic” and “function over security” mentality to simply get infrastructure deployed, provisioned and operational. More than ever, the need for a layered security model that includes not just traditional endpoint and perimeter defenses, but network based security Is required.”

This is important, Rezek adds: “The network is the one place where an attacker cannot hide. He can bounce around, and probe and perform reconnaissance, and endpoints may not ever see the assailant laterally moving. Also, with IoT exploding, very often it’s not feasible to deploy endpoint protection on devices.”

Rezek concludes: “The network tells all and the funds that are being allocated by the US Technology Modernization Fund should absolutely support network-based security.”

With a strong background in securing voice-enabled devices and services, Sarosh explains the importance: “For the government to improve how it responds to pandemics, deploying fraud detection and authentication technologies for automated systems will be key.”

Citing some examples, she explains: “In the early stages of the pandemic overall call volume to the contact center climbed 300 percent in just days. By the later stages we were seeing enterprise contact center call volumes jump over 800 percent from normal levels.”

From this it is “Unsurprisingly, the volume of calls to call centers jumped as physical locations closed. As COVID cases peaked in late March and beginning of April 2021, there was also a simultaneous spike in unemployment (as teams began to change operations, agent call capacity dropped by 20 percent).”

The consequence of this, Sarosh adds, is that “More calls, less people to handle calls, means a lot of unhappy citizens. By deflecting calls to automated systems and being able to apply fraud detection and authentication could have helped the government transition better.”

These insights highlight the importance of network security and fraud detection technologies.

Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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