Innovation Inside the Beltway? It’s not an Oxymoron When it comes to Cybersecurity

When most people think of what happens inside the Beltway, what springs to mind is gridlock. From Congress to traffic, the area is notorious for moving at a slow place. However, while the reputation might be well-earned, some leading technologists, including CSRA’s CTO, Yogesh Khanna, and 1776’s Evan Burfield, along with eight industry-leading startups are challenging that reputation.

At CSRA’s 4th Emerging Tech Day, tech startups including Cherwell, Cylance, Data Robot, Frame, Me4Sure, Peritus, Pondera, and Veriflow, showcased their organizations’ ability to solve some of the federal government’s most pressing problems. From reducing waste, fraud, and abuse for agencies distributing social benefits like Medicare and unemployment assistance, to reducing the costs of data center maintenance, to the next-generation of intelligent cyber defenses, the event was a hive of innovation.

“Cylance is very excited to have been part of the recent cohort of companies participating in CSRA’s Emerging Tech Day,” said Finn Ramsland, Director for Department of Defense and Special Projects at Cylance. “This program has given us the opportunity to showcase how Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) can provide more robust cyber defenses to agencies that are constantly under- resourced and under attack,” he shared.

Unlike traditional antivirus (AV) solutions that end up being resource intensive to deploy and maintain in order to ensure effectiveness, Cylance’s approach delivers robust threat prevention with little impact on either personnel or operations. Powered by algorithmic science and machine learning, next-generation AV can collect data, extract the vital knowledge, learn, then classify, and defend all within 10 to 50 milliseconds. Moreover the catch and prevention rate remains stable at 98.7%-99.975%.  Compare this to the effort of deploying a new signature update, then creating white lists to manage exceptions, and finally handling the false positives.

This type of minimalism is particularly important for the Department of Defense and the Intelligence Community where air gapped networks are essential to protect classified information and national security.  “The more times air gapped networks are touched, the more chances are that vulnerabilities will be introduced into the network with potentially dire consequences,” said Ramsland.  “With the low decay rates that next-generation AV provides, the update lifecycle is extended to a single release every 6 to 9 months as compared to the daily/weekly update requirement for traditional AV approaches.  This advancement not only reduces operational costs but significantly improves the overall security posture,” Ramsland shared.

At the end of his presentation, Ramsland commented that simplicity is an underappreciated attribute in cybersecurity. “There’s a tendency to think that only something which is cumbersome and complex can combat threats, but that’s simply not the case,” he said adamantly.  “For too long, AV has placed an enormous burden on federal cyber teams. While they’re worrying about whether the signatures are up to date and responding to false positives, they’re not able to do the core work of an effective cyber team and actually defend the network and remediate attacks,” Ramsland concluded.

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