2015 will be a pivotal year for cyber security

The cyber security saga has garnered nationwide attention in both private and public domains, and as U.S. leaders continue to navigate the changing threat landscape, organizations across the country are joining forces to overcome the challenges posed by malicious adversaries. Between new, action-oriented legislation seeing formulation in Washington and guidance from defense systems providers throughout the nation, the United States is positioned to make 2015 a breakthrough year for cyber defense if leaders continue to generate momentum for change.

Have the tables turned?
As the year comes to a close, federal decision-makers are in the process of not only analyzing the events and developments of the past 12 months, but also peering into the future to predict what the next 12 will bring to the table as far as the nation's network protection is concerned. As a recent article from Homeland Security Today noted, Unisys' Federal Systems team recently gathered to gauge the direction of the security sphere heading into the new year, suggesting that it's time for leaders to pool their expertise and resources in order to initiate an impactful strategy.

"2015 is the year of action [for] laying the groundwork for cybersecurity," the Unisys report stated, according to the source. "While the bad guys seemed to have the upper hand on cybersecurity in 2014, this coming year is the year we will see government and the cyber tools purchased in 2015 take hold. From legislation, to hiring, to more advanced intrusion prevention (including internal leaks), government now knows that it has no choice but to finally put security as its number one priority."

With high-stakes geopolitical and economic factors compelling cybercriminals to coordinate attacks in more organized ways - as well as with more insidious methods - federal agencies and and private sector groups have no choice but to enter 2015 with a revamped plan for digital defense. Homeland Security Today noted that while new forms of authentication, encryption and tokenization will certainly aid these organizations in their efforts to guard vital information, a proactive approach to network protection will be the key factor in this game of cat and mouse.

New standards of defense
IT audit and security consultation firm Coalfire also contributed to the panel's 2015 predictions, urging decision-makers to embrace a "cyber-offense" attitude this new year, rather than passively watching networks continue to sustain a barrage of attacks in hopes of remaining resilient. This means implementing monitoring programs that keep a close watch on the frequency, severity and type of malicious action taken against networks, as well as training end-users across the organization to identify and defend their own digital outposts in light of threats such as ransomware.

"It's time for companies to start looking ahead at the next generation of threats and to step up their game to better protect data," said Rick Dakin, Coalfire's CEO and chief security strategist, according to the source. "The threat landscape is continuously evolving. If you don't already have threat intelligence and response plans ready for implementation in 2015, now is the time. As 2014 ends, it's clear this was the year everything changed in the world of information security."

Cyber security is clearly a vital element of any agency's IT strategy moving forward into the new year, and while many organizations learned their lessons the hard way in 2014, the next 12 months will hopefully offer a chance to regain ground against an imposing threat matrix. As long as decision-makers vow to put their plans into action and maintain momentum rather than letting their efforts fall into stagnation, this should be a year of progress in the world of infrastructure defense.