Data privacy is the crossroads of confidentiality and integrity. When data is shared, either voluntarily or involuntarily, there’s an expectation that the collected information will be kept confidential.

In general, data privacy is really about identity—social security numbers, credit card information, and other data specific to a particular person. If that information isn’t protected, it could fall into the wrong hands. Identity thieves could use the stolen information to open fraudulent accounts, racking up debt and ruining credit, which could take years to fix.

But data privacy is not just important to individuals or businesses, it’s also critical for federal agencies. Data privacy is intrinsic to the charter of the collective federal government as outlined in the preamble to the Constitution, with an expectation to protect people, promote general welfare, and secure our liberties for future generations. Without data privacy, the government could expose current and future generations of Americans to the risk of having their data used for nefarious deeds like election hacking or espionage.

How can federal agencies protect information?

The most common ways to protect information include appointing or hiring personnel to staff security offices, establishing policies to secure data by physically securing the facilities in which the data is stored, encrypting data, and utilizing standardized hardening techniques on various systems. This is referred to as “Defense in Depth”—a mixture of policy, hardware, and software from different partners to ensure a solution to every potential threat, whether internal or external to the agency.

Defense in Depth provides the benefit of working with multiple solution providers that specialize in different areas of security, so you can have the best firewall and the best intrusion detection system, while also having a solid host-based security, all in hopes of mitigating threats somewhere between the network edge and the data to be secured.

One caveat to this approach: While Defense in Depth has been successful in mitigating threats, it has also created a lot of operational overhead. It provides more technical security, but there could be an increased risk in private data loss if those hired to manage and monitor these systems have been inundated with alerts from multiple sources of tools that don’t actually connect to one another or inform one another of the changes to the network. And if the response time increases, there’s a risk that the agency mission could start to be delayed.

All methods of protecting information are only as good as the people that implement them, so the biggest flaw in any system is the human element. To overcome this, it’s important to implement constant validation checks and make sure systems and tools are operating the way they should be.

How to achieve Defense in Depth

When selecting security partners, flexibility is key. Solution providers shouldn’t be one size fits all—they must be willing to provide you the ability to get what you need out of their tools.

First, look for a tool with an open API platform so you can customize it to get the specific information you need. With an open API, even if the partner is slow to evolve in the future, you can have a programmer change the data model and create a solution that meets your requirements.

Second, look for a solution that focuses on rapid response rather than storing a large amount of activity logs. You can always purchase more storage, but from a firewall perspective it is important to have the ability to block threats quickly and efficiently.

Force 3 has been working with federal agencies and protecting the nation’s data for over 25 years. This experience handling emerging threats has allowed us to understand the progression of challenges specific to our nation’s government, as well as observe emerging threats in the commercial world. We help agencies by establishing solutions that meet their needs for protecting data as its being collected and stored for both current and future generations of Americans.

We also design and deploy solutions to mitigate threats after a security breach has occurred.  Our optimization services allow for us to partner with agencies to fine tune existing solutions to help you achieve a higher efficiency and protection of private data.

Want to learn more about how Force 3 can help ensure data privacy for your agency?Contact us today.

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