Written by Joe Bermudez
Joe Bermudez, Principal Engineer at Axonius Federal Systems, has over 12 years of federal cybersecurity engineering experience. It currently supports DoD clients.
The recent zero trust mandate challenges federal IT teams to understand their security posture and maintain continuous visibility into their assets and users. This is compounded by the changing landscape of the workplace, the increased need for users to access software as a service technologies and the modification or addition of different devices for end users.
Initiatives like Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Continuous Diagnostic and Mitigation Program (CDM) and the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) Continuous Monitoring and Risk Scoring (CMRS) program aims to be beneficial frameworks for the implementation of zero trust practices. However, federal IT teams are still struggling under the weight of the many security and operational tools they use to protect their assets.
What agencies need is a turnkey approach to aggregate all the valuable data hosted by the different systems they have already invested in and correlate it into actionable insights.
Using asset management to build a foundation of zero trust
The Biden administration’s new zero-trust mandate calls on agencies to act quickly to improve the prevention, detection, assessment and resolution of cyber incidents. But as long as all system data remains siled, agencies will never gain the visibility needed to stay ahead of threats, let alone move towards a zero trust posture.
At the start of the zero trust journey, I recommend that agencies fully understand the basis of security and the level of compliance of their assets.
Long-standing programs like the CDM and RSMC are essential in helping agencies establish a risk-based security approach to threats in their environment. These programs attempt to provide a dynamic approach to security by deriving a quantified and always up-to-date level of risk to articulate and monitor security compliance.
Adding a modern Cyber asset attack surface management (CAASM) platform like Axonius greatly simplifies the task of aggregating and correlating all the data needed for these programs, and greatly increases the accuracy and modernity of the programs. It also provides deeper visibility into assets and user actions. This puts agencies in a proactive position to mitigate risk on the network. The combination pushes agencies to fulfill their zero trust mandates.
The second area I recommend agencies invest in is greater visibility into users and account access policies. While it remains to be seen how government agencies will navigate hybrid labor in the long run, trends suggest that the demand for flexible labor capabilities is on the rise. At this time, when agencies look at their less privileged access policies through the lens of zero trust, they need to be absolutely confident that devices are secure – but also that user accounts adhere to security policies.
Tracking service accounts and administrator accounts can also be a big challenge for agencies. Axonius offers the ability to map all devices to associated users quickly and easily. It allows agencies to easily monitor how often passwords are changed for accounts, track the last time the account was used, and view which devices the account is connected to.
Implementing multi-factor authentication (MFA) and single sign-on technology with an identity and access management solution is critical for agencies. Although the deployment of the AMF to all facets of the agency is a challenge in itself, the quality of the monitoring of this policy is just as important. Axonius can constantly check that the MFA security policy is being followed and report or take action when this is not the case.
How to Embrace a Stronger Zero Confidence Mindset
There is no shortage of security threats and vulnerabilities, but the key to creating a zero trust mindset is closing these visibility gaps. Data plays a key role in how these security decisions will be made.
I recommend executives ask themselves some of these key questions to determine if they have enough visibility into their assets and users. Can you easily and constantly check:
- That your endpoint agents are deployed and functioning correctly across all of your assets?
- How many unmanaged devices are connected to your network and whether or not they need to be managed?
- That privileged user accounts follow MFA security policies?
- That the service accounts are being used correctly?
- That all your users and devices adhere to your security policies?
If the answer to any of the questions is no, or I don’t know, you need to take a step back and think about how to increase their level of intelligence on assets and move forward with confidence. zero.
Modernize the asset inventory approach
The CAASM approach gives agencies increased visibility into assets, users and issues.
Axonius is the cybersecurity asset management platform that gives organizations a full inventory of assets, discovers gaps, and automatically validates and enforces policies. Deployed in minutes, the Axonius solution integrates with hundreds of data sources to give customers the confidence to control complexity by mitigating threats, managing risk, reducing incidents, automating response actions and informing strategy at the company level.
The Axonius platform has over 350 pre-built integrations into all the management, infrastructure and security tools that agencies have already deployed, and the number continues to grow.
These integrations provide the out-of-the-box ability to provide and maintain a credible and up-to-date asset inventory. The Axonius Query Assistant also allows users to create complex queries so that they can query their asset inventory from all data sources in one place. From there, agencies can easily analyze their security posture, take automated action through Axonius’ Security Policy Enforcement Center, and feed that precise and organized information to risk management systems.
Request a demo to learn more about how Axonius can help your organization face security risks with modern asset management solutions.