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Protecting the U.S. government's cybersecurity

Posted: 1:51 PM, Oct 28, 2016
Updated: 2016-10-28 17:32:36-04

Cyber attacks from around the world have taken center stage during this election and over the last few years. It turns out, we’re only hearing about a fraction of the cyber warfare going on against the nation’s capitol.

In June of 2015, the federal Office of Personnel Management was hacked, and the personal information for more than 20 million people was put at risk. zyhe U.S. blamed the attack on hackers in China.

Bill Rowan is the vice president of Vmware, an IT company the federal government has tasked with keeping its data safe, and staying ahead of the hackers’ latest techniques and changing threats.

“It becomes a closed loop process where we learn from the past and do predictive analysis for the future,” Rowan said in an interview via Skype. 

Rowan admits it is a tough task, but says the way the government does business has changed dramatically in a relatively short amount of time.

“If you look at the strides the government has made over the last 10-15 years in what used to be a completely paper environment,” he said. “That innovation while very, very important has lead to challenges.”

Those challenges have major implications too.

Earlier this year, Pew Research released a poll showing a majority of Americans felt ISIS was the only bigger threat to safety than cyberattacks.

Rowan says the federal government’s computer systems come under attack about 10,000 times per day.

A government audit found its systems were successfully hacked in some form or another, 77,000 times in 2015. It’s a 1,300 percent increase from the number of hackings in 2006.

Those staggering numbers have prompted a change in strategy for protecting cyber security, including adding more layers of security to keep hackers from getting far if they do get in.

“If they break into the house I want them confined to a certain space,” Rowan said. “I want them confined to the front hallway and all the other doors in the house are locked. Will we always be able to stop 100% of everyone? Probably not. But the question then becomes if they do get through, how do we isolate them such that they can't do damage to other parts of the environment.”

To read more about the Government Accountability Office’s report on cyber attacks click here.