CISA’s Kevin Cox Backs MeriTalk Research Findings on CDM Trends

Kevin Cox, CDM program manager, speaks during CDM Central on October 10, 2019.

Kevin Cox, program manager for the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency’s (CISA) Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation (CDM) program, confirms that Federal agencies are increasingly integrating CDM into their overall security operations for greater visibility and control. That’s in line with findings from MeriTalk’s latest research, which found 59 percent of agencies incorporating CDM into their broader cyber strategy, rather than viewing it as a standalone function.

While the research shows that Federal agencies are doing their part in adopting the CDM program, 68 percent of stakeholders want to see the program adapt faster to protect cloud and mobile environments. Both technologies are playing an increased role in supporting the government’s ability to enable telework at scale during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“In terms of what our program is seeing . . . agencies are, indeed, integrating CDM capabilities into their day-to-day security and network operations,” Cox said in an exclusive interview with MeriTalk. Using the tools CDM provides, agencies can “quickly survey their environment, see what assets they have on their networks, gain a clear understanding of their users, and better get in front of new vulnerabilities,” he said.

Cox is set to keynote MeriTalk’s CDM Central: Tales from the Frontlines virtual conference on June 9, from 8:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m., where he will deliver a broad update on program activities and progress.

Meeting Cloud, Mobile Priorities

MeriTalk’s research shows 90 percent of Federal agencies believe that better visibility of cloud and mobile services are pivotal to the future of cyber defense. Cox explained that the CDM DEFEND task orders give the program flexibility to tackle the complex issues of cloud and mobile security, and to “get in front of where technology is going and how threats are evolving.”

The task orders, he said, are helping agencies close visibility gaps in their on-prem networks and get the “right solutions in place for ensuring cloud security . . . and the visibility they need for their mobile environments.”

“We want to ensure with CDM that we’re helping agencies to understand where their data is and to protect it properly, whether it’s on prem, in the cloud, or on a mobile device,” Cox said.

CDM, TIC 3.0, EINSTEIN Alignment

The importance of integrating CDM into broader cybersecurity initiatives goes well beyond individual agencies to encompass other CISA security initiatives, including Trusted Internet Connections (TIC) 3.0 – which 82 percent of MeriTalk research respondents believe will support CDM progress in Federal agencies.

“The CDM program has worked closely with the TIC PMO within CISA, as well as with CISA’s EINSTEIN program team to make sure we’re aligned with their direction,” Cox said. That program alignment strategy aims to “make sure that, as the agencies move more to the cloud and do more with mobile, TIC’s objectives can be achieved,” he said.

TIC 3.0 “is really helping agencies to gain visibility into the traffic from their environments out to where their agency data resides. They’re also gaining visibility into who is accessing agency data – whether it’s on-prem or in the cloud. And, they can detect anomalies that might indicate some type of adversarial action against the agency’s data.”

“The aim is that all of these programs within CISA are aligned and working together. We’re also sharing lessons learned and working to come up with industry best-practice solutions to help agencies secure their data no matter where it’s located,” he said.

Learn More June 9 at MeriTalk’s CDM Central: Tales from the Frontlines

For a deeper dive into the research findings, and the latest developments from the CDM PMO, please join MeriTalk on June 9 from 8:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. EDT for CDM Central: Tales from the Frontlines. This virtual event features agency leaders explaining their own CDM implementations, and what’s next for CDM Dashboard expansions, task order developments, and more. Then, continue the conversation on July 15 with MeriTalk’s CDM: The Next Chapter webinar at 1:30 p.m. EDT. This complementary event will further explore MeriTalk’s research findings, including agency sentiment on what the CDM program needs moving forward.

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