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Cutting the Red Tape: Lessons Learned from CyberThreats 2021

Written by

Bridget Meuse

July 27, 2021

Bridget Meuse is a senior industry marketing analyst for Akamai. She focuses on three industries: Environmental Sustainability, Healthcare, and the Public Sector, where she identifies key trends, tells data-driven stories, and helps bring Akamai solutions to life for customers.

 

If I had a dollar for every time I heard the phrase “digital transformation,” I would have a lot of dollars. I’m sure you would too. We’d have even more if we counted the term “Zero Trust.” (Maybe we should start counting them, now that I think about it!)

Speakers and authors often use these buzz phrases to pique interest. These loaded phrases mean different things to different people, stripping each phrase of any real meaning at all. This ends up being frustrating for attendees just trying to find actionable insights to bring back to their municipalities. 

Last week’s public sector security summit, CyberThreats 2021 for state and local governments, focused on cutting the red tape and going beyond the surface of the conversation to provide real, actionable insights for our audience. 

We gathered a few of the most prominent leaders and experts from corners of the state and local space to talk about all things cybersecurity and digital transformation. Discussions ranged from the move toward Zero Trust Network Access (and what it actually means), to keeping data and infrastructure safe from the impacts of ransomware, and effectively managing identities and access with a secure web gateway (SWG). 

The summit told the compelling story of a changing landscape, one where threat actors are getting smarter and working harder to exploit every vulnerability they can — with state and local governments protecting themselves for the future of what’s to come. What were once crimes of opportunity have evolved to calculated and planned attacks on critical infrastructure. 

In fact, state and local governments are one of the most targeted industries for cyberattacks, and in some instances, they are soft targets. In his talk The State of Cybersecurity, Akamai Director of Security Technology and Strategy Tony Lauro discussed how state and local governments have embraced new technologies and tactics to protect information in response to the evolving threat landscape  

With the industry context set, Akamai Senior Solutions Engineer Doug Holland talked about Zero Trust, using education as an example to show how following the framework of Zero Trust has had huge benefits in ensuring the safety of research and student data. He covered the flexibility and security that Zero Trust allows, and the University of Alabama’s CISO Ashley Ewing made the concept come to life. “We have 38,000 students (plus researchers and staff), and each of them brings 2–3 devices to campus, so we’ll see around 150,000 unique wireless devices show up on our network, all of which are BYOD.” The challenge with network access that’s unique to education is the need for information and data to be open and readily accessible, while being prepared for huge influxes on your network. Enter multi-factor authentication (MFA). It’s scalable, easy to implement and use, and adds an additional layer of protection for faculty, staff, and (at times) not-so-vigilant students. Ashley and Doug provided tips, benefits, and outcomes during the session. Tune in to learn more.

By the end of the summit, it all started to make sense. Viewers could see what others in the industry are coming up against, and what they’re doing about it, hopefully adding a deeper level of meaning to the buzz terms we’ve all become so accustomed to today. After watching this event, participants were able to get their arms around industry trends, what’s coming up for the future, and how to prepare for it. 

If you’re looking for more of what was covered in the summit, you can watch it now

We also know a two-hour summit can only cover so much. What did we miss? What would you like to hear more of? Reach out to us or contact me directly on Twitter at @bmeusedbridget. I’d really love to hear from you. 



Written by

Bridget Meuse

July 27, 2021

Bridget Meuse is a senior industry marketing analyst for Akamai. She focuses on three industries: Environmental Sustainability, Healthcare, and the Public Sector, where she identifies key trends, tells data-driven stories, and helps bring Akamai solutions to life for customers.