Cybersecurity for State and Provincial Governments

E-government initiatives provide citizens with better access to government services and place extra demands on IT and security teams. These initiatives must also block increasingly sophisticated threats as well as keep sensitive data and applications safe amid budget and staffing concerns. Palo Alto Networks® meets the security needs of state and provincial governments by automatically preventing cyberattacks and controlling access to sensitive data while minimizing security management overhead.

Efficient Security for State and Provincial Government Networks

Keeping pace with new threats in dynamic online environments is an ongoing struggle for state and provincial government IT and security teams. Palo Alto Networks helps governments and their agencies face security challenges relating to:

  • Valuable data: Governments are prime targets for cybercriminals seeking monetary gain from the theft of citizen, business and employee information. IT must protect against data exfiltration, clickjacking and other schemes that can take over users' systems or steal identities and login credentials.
  • Appropriate access: With a range of internal and third-party users on the network, giving the right people access to the right resources – without compromising security – is an ongoing challenge.
  • Critical infrastructure: Threats against computer-operated municipal infrastructure have become more sophisticated, yet they are difficult to detect due to the lack of visibility around users and applications.
  • Distributed environments: Although many state governments are consolidating network resources, many agencies maintain servers, desktops and other equipment with varying levels of host protection. State governments are using cloud environments and SaaS applications to improve flexibility and reduce costs.
  • Mobility and smart devices: Field employees use tablets or notebooks that need to be protected wherever they travel, while smart cameras and sensors need protection that still allows access for valid users.

Create Secure, Efficient State Government Networks with a Platform Approach

The Palo Alto Networks Security Operating Platform automates threat prevention across your networks, devices and cloud environments, enabled by real-time traffic visibility and consistent security policies for users, applications and content.

State and provincial governments around the world use Palo Alto Networks to:

  • Offer appropriate access to data and applications
  • Automatically prevent known and unknown threats from impacting networks, users and data
  • Block phishing, credential theft and the use of stolen credentials
  • Secure government-owned devices no matter where they travel
  • Protect critical ICS and SCADA infrastructure
  • Safely enable cloud use and SaaS applications
  • Increase IT efficiency with coordinated security policies across networks and endpoints, automatic updates, and contextual threat analysis across security functions

Offer Appropriate Access to Data and Applications

Most state or provincial government IT and security teams have little visibility into their network activity, which can leave them vulnerable to the misuse of applications or data and even serious security breaches. Palo Alto Networks Security Operating Platform allows granular visibility and control of users, applications and content on the network, enabling state governments to monitor usage, reduce risk and improve productivity. The platform leverages user information from a wide range of repositories, allowing IT teams to identify individual users, not just IP addresses. The platform also identifies thousands of applications that pass through it. Together, these capabilities:

  • Identify individual users, not IP addresses, making it easy to quickly identify unauthorized network access by bad actors.
  • Employ User-ID™ technology to create role-based permission policies, ensuring everyone has access to the network resources they need while denying access to systems they don't.
  • Identify thousands of applications traversing the network, including applications that may pose a risk to the government's networks or reputation.
  • Combine application visibility with constantly updated URL filtering so IT teams can easily identify or block applications or web content that may pose a risk to the government's network, reputation or productivity.
  • Allow, deny or bandwidth-limit certain applications by user, location and even time of day, maintaining performance for critical applications.
  • Provide comprehensive visibility and control over sensitive data by blocking valid users from performing certain actions, such as outbound file transfers, or by scanning information leaving the network for certain patterns, such as credit card or Social Security numbers.
  • Track how policies are working with real-time reports organized according to users and applications, allowing administrators to adjust if needed.

Automatically Prevent Known and Unknown Threats from Impacting Networks, Users and Data

Government employees may unwittingly or deliberately put the network or sensitive data at risk by following a link or downloading a file. With new malware created every minute, IT teams must constantly update security posture to remain effective. For coordinated and automated threat prevention, Palo Alto Networks threat analysis service conducts dynamic analysis of suspicious content – even encrypted content – in a virtual environment to discover brand-new threats anywhere in the world. It then triggers the creation of new protections and delivers them to platform enforcement points in as few as five minutes. Security Operating Platform deployments are continuously updated with protections against new phishing and malware sites, ransomware, malicious links in emails, and command-and-control infrastructure, blocking any part of an attack. This automation vastly reduces the operational burden on IT teams, which would normally have to manually update multiple security devices across the network to block even one part of such attacks.

Block Phishing and Credential Theft

Stealing and using passwords is one of the oldest tricks in the book, yet it remains very effective. The Security Operating Platform uses the latest threat intelligence, updated every five minutes, to block access to phishing sites. The platform also detects and stops enterprise credentials from passing to illegitimate external websites and thwarts attempts to use stolen credentials by enforcing authentication policies at the network layer.

Secure Government-Owned Devices No Matter Where They Travel

IT teams must protect staff computers and mobile devices from unknown cyberthreats. Rather than relying on signatures, Palo Alto Networks advanced endpoint protection coordinates with threat intelligence and pre-emptively blocks known and unknown malware, exploits, and zero-day threats, enabling staff to use the web safely.

IT teams should have complete visibility and control over government-issued devices regardless of their physical location. The Palo Alto Networks platform extends both a VPN and granular security to remote staff and third-party devices – computers, tablets and smartphones – wherever they travel. Remote devices maintain the same security posture and access capabilities as inside the network perimeter.

Security Operating Platform

The Security Operating Platform prevents successful cyberattacks through automation. It is easy to operate, with capabilities that work together so you can make the most of scarce cybersecurity resources. Enforcement points and shared intelligence work together at network speed to automatically prevent ever-changing cyberthreats from affecting computers, networks or data. Accurate analytics allow you to streamline routine tasks and focus on government priorities. Tight integration across the platform and with ecosystem partners delivers consistent security across cloud, network and mobile devices. Among the core elements:

  • Network security employs next-generation firewalls to protect networked services ranging from small to large locations and data centers. Integrated network security clients extend security policies and protections to student and staff laptops and mobile devices whether they take them home or to the coffee shop.
  • Advanced endpoint protection safeguards servers, clients and mobile devices against the latest vulnerability exploits, ransomware and other malware delivered via any method, including email, USB drives or other attached devices, and other channels.
  • Cloud security provides the same protections as the network security components for private, public and hybrid cloud environments as well as SaaS applications. Deep integration with native cloud services and automation tools speeds up multi-cloud deployments.
  • Cloud-delivered security services employ global intelligence to filter content as well as detect threats and attackers. These services automatically create protections against new threats and attacks as well as continuously update endpoint, network and cloud sensors.

Palo Alto Networks has recently opened up the platform, enabling you to swiftly take advantage of security innovations that meet the particular needs of higher education.

  • Application Framework enables rapid development of custom and third-party applications that make use of data from the Logging Service and other cloud-delivered security services.
  • Logging Service provides a secure, cloud-based repository for all application and data logs, collecting data from various sources while eliminating the burden of scaling and maintaining on-premise compute and storage.

Palo Alto Networks apps on the Application Framework include:

  • Magnifier™ Behavioral analytics to help discover anomalous and malicious user or application activity inside the network.
  • AutoFocus™ Contextual threat intelligence service for malware analytics and hunting tools for security operations center teams.

For more information on the Palo Alto Networks Security Operating Platform, please visit https://www.paloaltonetworks. com/products/security-operating-platform.

Protect Critical ICS and SCADA Infrastructure

State and provincial governments have the heavy responsibility of protecting critical infrastructure under their authority, such as transportation networks as well as energy and power systems.

Palo Alto Networks has secured ICS and SCADA systems for years by:

  • Creating security zones by isolating systems on their own virtual network segments.
  • Facilitating regulatory compliance obligations to such standards as NERC CIP, ISA/IEC 62443 and NIST SP 800-82.
  • Providing complete visibility into ICS/SCADA applications and users traversing the zone.
  • Restricting security zone access to authorized users or groups to provide another layer of security beyond application-layer user authentication.
  • Limiting security zone traffic to control protocols and approved applications.
  • Monitoring and controlling third-party VPN and terminal server access.
  • Protecting unpatchable systems with threat signatures that target ICS/SCADA networks.
  • Automatically preventing network-borne, zero-day malware from spreading.
  • Using advanced endpoint protection to repel known and un-known threats.

Safely Enable Cloud Use and SaaS Applications

SaaS applications are traditionally invisible to IT. Palo Alto Networks solves this problem by providing full visibility into the day-to-day activities of employees using SaaS applications, such as Microsoft® Office 365® and Dropbox®.

Granular security policies help eliminate data exposure and threat risks.

Virtualized form factors of the platform extend the same security present in the on-premise network to public and private clouds. Protect Amazon® Web Services, Microsoft Azure® and Google® Cloud Platform environments and private clouds from advanced cyberattacks while providing application-level control between workloads, policy consistency from the network to the cloud, fast deployment and dynamic security policy updates as workloads change.

Increase IT and Security Efficiency With Palo Alto Networks for State and Provincial Governments

The biggest question for many IT and security teams in government is how to maximize user and data protection with minimal network and security resources. The Security Operating Platform natively integrates many capabilities, eliminating point products along with the cost and management overhead associated with them.

The platform approach centralizes policy creation and deployment as well as consolidates security event logging, reporting and forensics, dramatically simplifying security operations. Governments may start with one capability and add new ones to the platform over time, growing protection levels without the cost and complexity of installing and managing new network devices. Each security capability automatically correlates insights on newly emerging threats across endpoints, data centers and cloud resources, ensuring fast responses to any threat with no IT intervention required. Coordination increases as you add security capabilities, saving IT teams even more time.