Cybersecurity is the body of technologies, processes and practices designed to protect networks, computers, programs and data from attack, damage or unauthorized access. In a computing context, the term security implies cybersecurity. According to a December 2010 analysis of U.S. spending plans, the federal government has allotted over $13 billion annually to cybersecurity over the next five years.

Ensuring cybersecurity requires coordinated efforts throughout an information system. Elements of cybersecurity include:

One of the most problematic elements of cybersecurity is the quickly and constantly evolving nature of security risks. The traditional approach has been to focus most resources on the most crucial system components and protect against the biggest known threats, which necessitated leaving some less important system components undefended and some less dangerous risks not protected against. Such an approach is insufficient in the current environment. Adam Vincent, CTO-public sector at Layer 7 Technologies (a security services provider to federal agencies including Defense Department organizations), describes the problem:

"The threat is advancing quicker than we can keep up with it. The threat changes faster than our idea of the risk. It's no longer possible to write a large white paper about the risk to a particular system. You would be rewriting the white paper constantly..."

To deal with the current environment, advisory organizations are promoting a more proactive and adaptive approach. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), for example, recently issued updated guidelines in its risk assessment framework that recommended a shift toward continuous monitoring and real-time assessments.

According to a December 2010 analysis of U.S. spending plans, the federal government has allotted over $13 billion annually to cybersecurity over the next five years.

 

Learn more:

The Department of Homeland Security offers more resources on cybersecurity.

The Computer Emergency Readiness Team provides tips on improving cybersecurity for end users.

Richard W. Walker wrote about the need for better risk management in federal cybersecurity

This was last updated in December 2010
Posted by: Margaret Rouse

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