Pandemic Development Risks Non-Compliance with White House Guidelines

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In an organization, cybersecurity is everyone’s responsibility. News stories pop up all the time outlining data breaches for one company that started because a third-party integration became compromised. These systems rely on each other, and when one piece of the network is compromised, the others are vulnerable to attack.

The White House released its cybersecurity strategy earlier this year. The plan details the government’s measures to support national data security. It also outlines expectations for private industries to institute protective measures for the data contained within their networks.

Read here: White House Publishes Plan to Implement US National Cybersecurity Strategy

This comes at an interesting point in history because many industries are on the tail end of a forced digital transformation. The sudden emergence of the pandemic drove many companies to rapidly develop new applications, updates and, sometimes, brand-new IT infrastructure.

Examples of security problems because of this expedited development schedule have already been seen. Speed was prioritized during these last few years to keep up with the increased digital demand – leaving quality and security as afterthoughts.

Organizations that quickly spun up new products, services, and online portals during the pandemic are in danger of falling out of compliance with the White House’s new cybersecurity recommendations.

Let’s dig into the specifics of the government’s cybersecurity strategy that companies need to know and learn what you can do to ensure data security responsibilities are met.

Your Responsibility in Cybersecurity

Most organizations work with sensitive data of one type or another – financial data, medical information, addresses or other identifiable data. Customers and clients trust these organizations to protect this information. The new White House guidelines include stipulations for how organizations handle these types of sensitive data.

As stated in the White House’s strategy: “We will not replace or diminish the role of the market, but channel market forces productively toward keeping our country resilient and secure… In too many cases, organizations that choose not to invest in cybersecurity negatively and unfairly impact those that do, often disproportionately impacting small businesses and our most vulnerable communities.”

We do not exist in personal silos of information. Reckless behavior puts the security of the data contained within your system at risk, but it also creates instability that can impact others in your network.

The White House is calling out this responsibility to enact reasonable measures to protect sensitive data: “We must hold the stewards of our data accountable for the protection of personal data.”

It is time to shift the focus from speed to quality and security. Those forced to make sweeping changes over the last few years must work backwards and install adequate security measures to ensure the information contained within is properly protected.

The good news is that the government is going to help.

How the Government Will Help

The White House guidelines recognize a larger responsibility to protect critical infrastructure. The stability of the updates and applications built during the pandemic won’t matter if the lights don’t turn on.

The fourth pillar of the strategy outlines an initiative to invest in next-generation technologies that will support a secure and resilient technological network. This applies to how organizations can support data security because it means new tools and capabilities will continue to be introduced that directly target emerging threats.

Whether or not your organization works directly with developing cybersecurity tools, this initiative will help everyone remain secure in the face of growing threats like nation-state groups, which are also addressed in the cybersecurity strategy.

Protecting the data contained within your system is much easier when the network surrounding your environment is also stable. 

The expectations of your cybersecurity strategy are clear, and so are the ways the government is working to create a stronger internet presence across the board. But while these strategies are playing out in the background, there are things you can do today to ensure you are meeting the expectations set forth by the White House strategy.

What You Can Do Today

Expediting development leads to coding mistakes. And these errors become much more challenging to locate and fix as time goes on – but not impossible. This is often referred to as technical debt and needs to be addressed first as you work to align your cybersecurity strategy with the White House recommendations.

Utilize a static code analysis tool to scan your existing code for bugs and errors. These types of mistakes make your applications unstable and vulnerable to cyberattacks or misfires that have the potential to corrupt, expose, or delete critical data.

Fixing these legacy errors will stabilize the digital infrastructure built in haste during the pandemic. From there, institute a strategy to support secure development projects as you progress.

A DevSecOps approach integrates data security considerations into every application development life cycle stage. Paying constant attention to secure practices and utilizing automated tools will ensure you catch any errors before they become issues in a live environment, drastically increasing the overall security of your environment.

These tools – along with hosting your environment on-premises – give your team the level of control it needs to adhere to the White House expectations on your responsibility to protect critical data.

Mistakes from the past don’t have to compromise your ability to guard sensitive information. Paying close attention and utilizing special, automated tools will align your system with the lofty and important guidelines set forth by the Biden administration.

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