We commonly assume that a battle is won by the largest army, or the most firepower. But as history has shown, sometimes the inferior side clinches victory – and factors such as weather, terrain, and the element of surprise work in their favour.

Armies have tricked their opponents into fighting on boggy ground in full armour, weighing them down and rushing in. In the cyber war, governments need a similar advantage to keep the waves of marauding hackers at bay.

In today’s cyber war, maintaining the advantage over cyber criminals takes a thoughtful approach and team capable of maximising the efficiency of their network architecture.

Network visibility is that ‘force multiplier’, notes Dennis Reilly, Vice President of Federal at network visibility and analytics provider Gigamon. He shared how this concept can give all cyber defenders the edge on the opposition.

Digital defence

First, let’s explain network visibility. Every ‘packet’ of data making its way across a network is considered a potential threat – even when encrypted. Network visibility and analytics tools help app monitoring, cybersecurity and traffic management tools to work more efficiently, multiplying their ability to inspect information in motion for more secure networks, while maintaining performance.

Tech savvy countries are taking crucial steps to protect sensitive information and the networks it travels across. In the US, for instance, the Department of Homeland Security’s Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation programme provides network visibility tools, integration services and dashboards to support government agencies in improving their cybersecurity posture.

Meanwhile, in Singapore, the government is prioritising digital defence, stressing the importance of cybersecurity as a top priority. It has earmarked S$22.7 billion, or 30 per cent of its total expenditure in the 2019 financial year on defence, security and diplomacy, reports Singapore Business Review.

Reilly recommends that governments use next-generation network packet brokers to stay at the cutting edge. “They need a clear view of all the traffic on their physical and virtual networks, and as more agencies shift workflows to the cloud, they must extend their visibility into that area as well,” Reilly was quoted by Carahsoft as saying.

These solutions can help app monitoring, cybersecurity and traffic management tools perform at peak capacity, as they pass on only the relevant information to the relevant tools, allowing the network to run fast and stay secure . “Given the fact that agencies typically use dozens of tools to see, secure and manage the data going across their networks, an improvement in efficiency of just 20 per cent would be a tremendous return on investment,” he continues.

They could even help agencies achieve a fivefold improvement in productivity, Reilly adds: “In a recent study, Forrester Research discovered that the technology can reduce cybersecurity costs by 50 per cent and pay for itself in just seven months.”

Cybersecurity skills

The other critical requirement is a solid team of cybersecurity talent to help manage network threat detection and response. This represents another major challenge for governments today – there is a dearth of qualified cybersecurity professionals, as 2.9 million cybersecurity roles remain unfulfilled globally as of 2018 and this number will only increase as networks become more complex and the cyber threats increase.

Governments often need to work with what they’ve got, which is where automation comes in. As Reilly puts it: “Agencies must continue exploring new ways to recruit and retain talented cybersecurity professionals, even as they automate routine tasks and reserve the higher-order activities for our scarce human resources.”

Agencies can maximise their efforts with the help of Gigamon’s network visibility and analytics tools that help customers manage traffic and drive threat detection and response. On one centralised dashboard, they can keep a close watch on every single data packet in motion across their networks. “It all comes back to knowing who’s on the network, what’s happening on the network and how the data is traversing the network,” Reilly concludes.

Network visibility and analytics are the keys to maximising your agency’s return on investment for IT spend. It also forms a central part of your winning strategy against cyber attackers and threats.