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VA, USDA CISOs Focus on Ensuring Cyber Preparedness During Telework


VA, USDA CISOs Focus on Ensuring Cyber Preparedness During Telework

Chief information security officers within the departments of Agriculture and Veterans Affairs have shifted their focus on ensuring that their agencies are well equipped to accommodate the information technology demands of a remote workforce.

Some of the main concerns identified by USDA CISO Venice Goodwine were the need for sufficient network capacity and virtual private network access. Speaking at the Splunk Cloud Summit, Goodwine said operating in a remote setting also expanded her responsibility over data security beyond the walls of USDA, with over 100K employees accessing agency data outside the confines of on-site facilities, Government CIO Media reported Thursday.

Over at the VA, data security protocols have been adjusted in line with the shift in the cyber environment. VA CISO Paul Cunningham has been specifically invested in evaluating the changing methods employed by malicious actors during the pandemic. So far, Cunningham noted, cyber adversaries continue to maximize phishing attacks, citing the effectiveness of COVID-19 related baits, which is why the agency has relied on anti-phishing tools.

Another key concern raised by Cunningham is the human element, particularly employees’ data habits and whether they have been trained to work remotely.

Concerns over user diligence have led to the adoption of zero trust architecture in the federal government as a fundamental cybersecurity precaution. According to Goodwine, the COVID-19 pandemic has instilled a sense of urgency within the USDA to advance its zero trust journey, which she believes should have been accelerated earlier.

Additionally, federal CISOs have shown interest in sharing cybersecurity best practices and methodologies across agencies, with emphasis on cross-governmental collaboration to comprehensively reinforce cybersecurity across the federal government.

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Tags: cybersecurity Department of Agriculture Government CIO Media Paul Cunningham Popular Voices USDA Venice Goodwine Veterans Affairs VPN zero trust