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Taking a holistic approach to cybersecurity

The public sector, the backbone of our nation’s critical infrastructure, faces relentless cyber threats. From healthcare systems to power grids, these institutions hold sensitive data and play a vital role in everyday life. Unfortunately, their vast networks and complex environments make them prime targets for cybercriminals. This necessitates a comprehensive understanding of activity across the entire digital environment.

Imagine a state government IT department, as Mike Watson, chief information security officer for the Commonwealth of Virginia, describes it: “We’ve got over 60 different agencies, different lines of businesses, that we have to support with a whole bunch of components that are critical.”

He highlighted the significance of integrating telemetry data across digital platforms. “In our environments, especially within the state and public sector, the integration of telemetry data is vital,” he explained. “We’re dealing with a scenario where our critical infrastructure must remain operational under all circumstances. This integration helps us harmonize security information across endpoints, networks and cloud services, enhancing our defense mechanisms.”

Christopher Fielder, field chief technology officer for Arctic Wolf Networks, echoed Watson’s remarks and spoke about the necessity of a holistic approach to cybersecurity, emphasizing the sophistication of attackers. “Attackers are not just targeting one component; they are traversing the network, utilizing cloud resources and touching multiple endpoints,” Fielder noted. “Achieving a comprehensive visibility is paramount to understanding the full extent of an attack and effectively countering it.”

Both experts highlighted the crucial role of technology, including automation and artificial intelligence, in streamlining security operations. However, they cautioned against perceiving these tools as replacements for human judgment and expertise. “AI should act as a tool to enhance our people’s capabilities, not replace them,” Fielder remarked, reinforcing the idea that human expertise remains at the core of effective cybersecurity strategies.

The conversation concluded on operational strategies, particularly the development of security operations centers and the importance of collaboration within the cybersecurity community.

“Cybersecurity is a team sport,” Watson stated. “No single individual can grasp the entirety of the cyber landscape. It’s about pooling our knowledge, resources and efforts to protect our digital environments effectively.”

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This video panel discussion was produced by Scoop News Group and CyberScoop and underwritten by Arctic Wolf Networks.