Following the recent disclosure of widespread security breaches in both government computer systems and in the private sector, federal courts have added tightened security procedures to further protect confidential and highly sensitive court documents.
In a January 6, 2021 communication to the courts, James Duff, secretary of the Judicial Conference of the United States, (the national policy-making body for the federal courts) said the federal Judiciary's primary concern must be focused on the integrity of public trust in the operation and administration of its courts.
Federal agencies asked to review networks
This communication followed an emergency directive issued in mid-December 2020 by the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) regarding “a known compromise that involved SolarWinds Orion network management products.” The directive called for all federal civilian agencies to review their networks for evidence of compromise and power down or disconnect SolarWinds Orion products. The software hack was executed by cybercriminals who installed malicious code on users’ systems through a software update for SolarWinds.
The U.S. Department of Justice and the federal courts announced they were affected by the SolarWinds hack and that approximately 3% of its emails were possibly accessed, but there was no sign that any classified systems were compromised.
New requirements for modern data protection in the federal sector
The Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts (AO) announced these findings have triggered a new requirement for courts to use paper or USB drives to file highly sensitive documents and standalone systems for storage to prevent remote access of such sensitive files.
The AO said it is working on an audit of the Judiciary’s Case Management/Electronic Case Files (CM/ECF) system, which was the system compromised by way of exploit in SolarWinds Orion software. The AO also noted the software was removed in keeping with the emergency directive issued by CISA.
The breach of government files in the SolarWinds hack highlights the need for federal agencies to modernize their data protection practices and security infrastructures to minimize the risk of exploits, like the one that compromised SolarWinds Orion Software.
How cloud environments can help
In the wake of the SolarWinds Orion breach, it is clear that federal government agencies need to do all they can to modernize and secure their networks and storage and file systems to ensure the integrity of highly sensitive government data and retain the trust of the public they serve. Many federal agencies are adopting cloud environments as a data protection and modernization solution. The right-fit cloud migration strategy can help agencies drive operational efficiency, resiliency and scalability while reducing total cost of ownership. Agencies can customize their cloud strategy—between a private, public or hybrid approach—to best fit their needs. Additional benefits of a cloud environment include help with cyber recovery, cloud disaster recovery, long-term retention, and hybrid cloud integration with an agency’s existing tools.
Data protection with flexibility
Federal agencies require a high-level of data protection, as they’re charged with safeguarding vast amounts of information about the constituents they serve. Data protection solutions for government agencies should eliminate high-risk threats, offer easy-to-use data protection tools, and reduce the complexity of managing data in multiple silos.
A hybrid, hyperconverged infrastructure offers both flexibility and strict security to match the needs of complex federal agency IT environments. Agencies can leverage hybrid cloud infrastructure to reduce complexity, modernize processes and improve security across the board. Another benefit of adopting a hybrid cloud solution as part of an agency’s modernization strategy is the robust backup and recovery options available in a cloud environment.
Hybrid cloud solutions for government agencies
Perhaps the most important aspect of an agency’s modernization journey is choosing the right cloud service provider. It’s important for federal agencies to work with experienced technology partners who have experience with the unique needs of the federal government. Dell Technologies is an established cloud provider of the U.S. Government and offers a cutting-edge hybrid cloud environment built on a VMware backbone for security, and leverages Kubernetes for additional flexibility and agility.
As a leading technology solutions provider helping federal agencies modernize their IT for the past 25 years, Sirius Federal has tremendous experience implementing Dell Technologies’ suite of tools designed specifically for public sector entities. Sirius Federal can work with your agency through every step of the process, from assessing needs to creating the journey maps to building the applications that need to be migrated. We also train IT teams to ensure success in the cloud through migration and beyond. Contact Sirius Federal’s team of certified cloud engineers to discuss your cloud migration questions and needs.