Mike Walsh, President at Forescout Government Systems


Navigating the Compliance Maze

Presented by Forescout Government Systems and Carahsoft

Photo Jun 25 2024, 3 17 14 PM-1Mike Walsh, President at Forescout Government Systems, discusses the "Comply to Connect" program, a DoD CIO-driven
initiative aimed at enhancing cybersecurity across millions of endpoints within the DOD's infrastructure.
 It is designed to enhance cybersecurity across millions of endpoints within the Department of Defense's (DOD) infrastructure. The program currently manages around 4 million licensed endpoints, forming a critical part of the Zero Trust (ZT) framework by collecting extensive device information. The speaker highlights the program's current status, noting that while significant progress has been made, there are still missing pieces, particularly regarding operational technology (OT) integration, which will take about another year to incorporate fully.

Operational technology refers to systems that are not traditional IT devices, such as laptops or servers, but include items like phones, generators, and battery systems inside data centers. These devices, often connected to IP networks, present unique security challenges. A major concern highlighted is the threat posed by the Volt Typhoon espionage hack, which has infiltrated numerous public sector systems. This espionage activity is not aimed at immediate disruption but poses significant long-term risks. The hack has been observed by Cyber Command, the NSA, and other public sector customers using the program's software.

To mitigate these risks, the NSA issued a Binary Operational Directive (BOD) 12402, mandating the inventory and reporting of OT assets. Compliance with this directive is crucial for future budget allocations and ensuring comprehensive cybersecurity measures by 2026-2027. The directive requires DOD departments to use existing OT licenses to inventory their assets and meet the outlined requirements. Failure to comply could result in significant funding issues in the coming years.

The speaker emphasizes the importance of inventorying OT devices and complying with NSA directives to secure future budget allocations and maintain robust cybersecurity defenses. The urgency of addressing the Volt Typhoon threat and ensuring that all OT devices are accounted for and protected is a key focus. The ultimate goal is to create a secure and resilient infrastructure capable of withstanding sophisticated cyber threats.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Integration of Operational Technology (OT): The "Comply to Connect" program will soon include OT devices like phones, generators, and battery systems to enhance overall cybersecurity within the DOD. This integration is crucial for comprehensive security measures.

  2. Addressing Espionage Threats: The Volt Typhoon espionage hack poses a significant long-term security risk. Immediate action is required to inventory and protect OT devices, following directives such as NSA's BOD 12402, to mitigate these threats effectively.

  3. Ensuring Compliance and Future Funding: Adhering to NSA's directives and accurately inventorying OT assets are essential steps for securing future budget allocations and maintaining comprehensive cybersecurity by 2026-2027. Failure to comply could jeopardize funding and the effectiveness of cybersecurity measures.

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