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Emerging Cyber Security Approaches and Technologies



Introduction

Federal information technology professionals continue to face a progressively more sophisticated landscape of evolving technology, constrained resources, presidential directives that influence priorities, and escalating cyber threats. For instance, the “Big Data Research and Development Initiative” introduced by the Obama Administration in March 2012 directed government agencies to identify ways of improving data mining from complex and huge data centers. The insights and patterns mined from such data could be used to solve complex social and economical problems.

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In the process of shaping priorities to incorporate the Administration’s directive regarding cloud computing, IT professionals are currently keeping in touch with the expansion of mobility as both an objective and strategy in service delivery. The issue of cyber threats emerges alongside the creation of digital content. In the effort to create a cyber relationship between the government and citizens, cybersecurity becomes more essential than ever. As more individuals and businesses migrate to cyberspace, they become exposed to cyber threats more than ever. It follows that cybersecurity is a universal issue that needs a comprehensive approach from both the public and private sectors.

The realm of cybersecurity will continue to be a dynamic target because cyber threats continue to evolve as hackers evolve and use new and sophisticated technologies to penetrate systems. Government agencies and private entities are eager to strengthen their defenses by procuring and implementing new approaches and technologies. Besides implementing new or emerging cyber security technologies, these entities are improving their security through education and training programs about cybersecurity. This paper identifies and assesses cyber security approaches and technologies. It also discusses the government effort to encourage the development of these emerging technologies.

Cyber Security Approaches and Technologies

Inadequate cybersecurity poses danger to the current globalized world. Complex computer-based networks interconnected across national and regional boundaries have been targeted by terrorist groups, cybercriminals and foreign states as a way of stealing data and intellectual property. Governments and private businesses are challenged by these threats. Cyber threats have become a crucial concern for our current technology-driven lifestyle. Hackers appear to be outsourced by governments. Moreover, governments use skilled hackers to spy and lodge direct attacks on their adversaries. In the United States, President Barrack Obama has strengthened his administration’s undertaking to combat cyber threats from various sources (Geopolitical Information Service, 2013).

Various federal agencies and private entities have demonstrated leadership in this issue with numerous efforts undertaken within the cyber domain despite the fact that its challenges are central to the national agenda. For example, under the Department of Homeland Security, there is a subcommittee on cybersecurity, infrastructure protection, and technologies. In April 2012, there was a hearing under this subcommittee pertaining to the Iranian cyber threat to the US (Cilluffo, 2012). In 2013, there was also a series of hearings pertaining to cyber threats from Russia and China. Such challenges and the emanating ones remain crucial to explore and respond to because the infrastructure and intellectual property of the U.S and its citizens are staked.

To the U.S, the real threat seems to emanate from cyber espionage from China. There are growing fears that China and other countries could use their cyber warfare capabilities to sabotage the U.S. critical infrastructure. In early 2013, Bloomberg News, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and other popular American media houses accused China of committing a series of cyberattacks against them. These attacks were reported after these media published information on the wealth status of the Chinese Politburo members (Wortzel, 2013). In 2012, hackers claimed to have stolen over 12 million records from Apple Devices. In the same year, there were worldwide computer failures in five Stock Exchanges. They were in Madrid, Tokyo, New York, London, and Sweden (Geopolitical Information Service, 2013). In 2011, the databases of IMF (International Monetary Fund) were breached. Other companies that reported intrusions include Dropbox and Citigroup.

In the recent past, news headlines have registered an increased activity in cyber intrusions, attacks, and exploits from various actors. In the United States, the most sensitive infrastructures and sectors, from finance to defense and energy, are often targeted. As reported by the Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. adversaries engage in activities from Computer Network Attack (CNA) to Computer Network Exploitation (CNE). In addition, foreign actors and states such as China, have increasingly integrated CNA and CNE capabilities into their military planning and battlefront doctrine. These trends have allowed foreign militaries to advance their weapon platforms and systems as well as baffle those of others.

According to the findings of the Efficacy of Emerging Network Security Technologies study conducted by Ponemon Institute, the key reason for investing in emerging cybersecurity approaches and technologies is the change of threat landscape and cyber attacks (Ponemon Institute, 2013). The other factors that drive the implementation of new cybersecurity approaches and technologies include the theft of intellectual property, including industrial processes, R&D results, and business strategies. The other prime target of hackers is the confidential information or authentication credentials that can be used to infiltrate enterprise systems and networks. In this research, peer-reviewed sources, books, and online resources are used to explore new cyber security approaches and technologies. The emerging cybersecurity approaches and technologies explored in this paper are national frameworks, models, intrusion prevention systems (IPS), and next-generation firewalls.

NIST’s Framework for Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity

In response to the Executive Order (EO) 13636 issued by the President in February 2013, the National Institute of Standards and Technologies released the national Framework for Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity to provide flexible, repeatable priorities and cost-effective approach to manage cyber threats across various sectors (NIST, 2014; The White House, 2013). The EO, Improving Critical Infrastructure, directed NIST to partner with relevant stakeholders to develop the framework based on existing guidelines, standards, and practices for preventing or reducing cyber threats to the critical national infrastructure.

The DHS’s Critical Infrastructure Cyber Community C3 Voluntary Program

The U.S. government and citizens rely on critical infrastructure to provide water, energy, financial services, transport, aviation, defense, and other capabilities that support commerce and human welfare. Advancement in technologies has also enabled these infrastructural capabilities to run and evolve efficiently. However, with the increased reliance on cyber systems, threats and vulnerabilities have increased too. The U. S. Department of Homeland Security's “Critical Infrastructure Cyber Community C3 Voluntary Program” helps entities to provide critical infrastructure operators and owners with updated resources or information that supports their initiatives to adopt the necessary Cybersecurity Frameworks and address their cyber risks (U. S. Department of Homeland Security, 2015).

Cybersecurity Approaches and Technologies Developed and Rolled To Advance Smart Utility Grids

Technologies with integrated cybersecurity functions are under development and some scenarios are deployed across the national utility grids. For instance, the national electricity grid is undergoing digitization and is being transformed into a smart grid. According to the 2014 Smart Grid System Report released in August 2014, the government and energy industry stakeholders were jointly developing tools, procedures, and resources significant to the creation of comprehensive cybersecurity practices within critical infrastructural utilities (the U. S. Department of Energy, 2014). Both private and public sector investments are channeled to modernize the United States power grid using advanced digital technologies to improve security, reliability, and efficiency.

As per the report, the U. S. Department of Energy (2014) noted that it funded research which resulted in advancements in interoperable and secure network designs, which were integrated into a number of products like Ethernet Data communication for electricity substations. The U. S. Department of Energy also contended that the Synchrophasor Technology effectively relays data at a speed 100 times better than the legacy technologies due to effective phasor measurement units in the electricity transmission grid. There is also a new technology used to detect cybersecurity and physical tempering in field devices. The Secure Information Exchange Gateways is a new protocol that provides protection for data sent over synchrophasor networks in electricity transmission systems. In the same effort, the University of Illinois developed a Network Access Policy tool for mapping the control systems' communication paths of utilities. Subsequently, they perform compliance audits and vulnerability assessments in minutes instead of days.

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Progress was made and in February 2014, the U. S. Department of Energy released the updated version of the Electricity Subsector Cybersecurity Capability Maturity Model. The new version uses self-evaluation to aid electrical grid operators in assessing their cybersecurity capabilities and giving priority to the action that needs urgent improvement. By February 2014, over 104 utilities serving 69 million Americans had downloaded the toolkit. According to the U. S. Department of Energy, the Cybersecurity Capability Maturity Model (C2M2) program is designed to assist different entities in assessing and improving their cybersecurity structures. The model emphasizes the management and implementation of cybersecurity practices related to the operational technology (OT) and information technology (IT) infrastructures and settings in which they operate.

Moving Target Defense

In the current cyber environment, IT systems are designed to operate in a moderately static configuration. For instance, names, addresses, networks, software stacks, and a range of configuration variables remain comparatively static over quite long periods. The static approach was a conventional approach of IT system design for straightforwardness in the era when cyber intrusions were not a major concern. Moving Target Defense (MTD) technology is one of the emerging cybersecurity technologies used in the United States. The logic of the technology is to create a dynamic set of system or application security parameters. This creates complex scenarios for intruders. Subsequently, hackers have to spend much more resources and time to identify and exploit any vulnerability. The U. S. Department of Homeland Security defines MTD as the concept of controlling information exchange across various systems to increase ambiguity and complexity for intruders. To that end, the technology reduces intruder’s window of exploitation opportunity and amplifies the costs of their probing and attack efforts.

Digital Foot Prints

Madden, Fox, Smith, and Vitak (2007) define digital footprints as the tracks that end-user leaves on digital platforms. Digital footprints are broadly classified into active and passive footprints. According to Madden et al. (2007), active digital footprints are trails created when information about a person’s identity is released deliberately for the purpose of sharing. On the other hand, passive footprints are those that are created when information is collected about an activity or online transaction without the owner’s activation. A digital footprint can also be defined as the evidence or records of an entity’s transactions in a digital environment. A digital environment is a virtual space created between two or more computers.

Awareness

As more and more computer users an author and post-digital content on online platforms, they also become aware that they leave traces of their personal information online. According to the Pew Internet survey conducted in 2007, approximately 47 percent of the internet users back then had searched for their personal information, which was an increment from 22 percent in a similar survey in 2002 (Madden et al., 2007). In the same context, it was found that most internet users are not certain of the exact attributes of their personal information that are online.

However, roughly 30 percent of internet users are aware that the following attributes of information are available online: their names, their home addresses, their email addresses, their employers, and home phone numbers. As the number of websites grows, it is challenging to determine whether or not a digital footprint or personal identity is protected (Google, 2012). Whether someone is aware or not, online privacy is often compromised the moment an individual post-self-authored content. At that particular moment, it would be difficult to evaluate whether the posts will have negative consequences in the future. Given that all online posts are virtually permanent, posted content can be copied, searched, retrieved, and retransmitted.

Managing Digital Footprints

People can be enlightened on how to manage their digital footprints through several measures. This includes keeping personal information private. Individuals can use a nickname rather than a real name. In addition, internet users should keep their passwords secret. At no point should password for private profiles be shared. Additionally, people should refrain from giving personal details such as phone numbers, names, and addresses. Moreover, users should respect other users’ profiles (Google, 2012). In this context, permission should be sought before posts or comments are made. Most importantly, people should avoid posting things they may not want others to access. Regardless of the nature of engagement on the internet, a person is likely to have a digital footprint.

Therefore people should build and maintain a good profile to ensure that other viewers make the right impression about them. People are cautioned to reconsider the people they associate with online. This is subject to the fact that people using social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook may post comments that do not reflect the values and thoughts of their followers. However, the posts and comments they make have an impact on the image or reputation of their followers. Despite the fact that an individual may be unaware of inappropriate comments made by friends or the people they link with on social platforms, their online network is always visible to the public.

Uses and Abuses of Digital Footprints in the Cybersecurity Realm

Given that a digital footprint is a record of an entity's interaction with the digital environment, the data and information left behind can be retrieved and exploited in many ways. As individuals and businesses use online resources such as GPS devices, cellphones and social platforms, they leave lots of data. For example, when a customer sends an email inquiry to a company, this email is routed through Internet Service Providers (ISP) and stored on the company’s servers. These simple emails constitute the sender’s digital footprint. As the business collects lots and lots of information about their clients; they can translate this data set to meaningful information. In other words, digital footprints have numerous advantages.

Big Data provides both opportunities and challenge to business. In 2012, data was generated at about 2.5 exabytes daily, and that number doubled every 40 months (McAfee & Brynjolfsson, 2012). It is projected that by 2020, the amount of data generated and replicated will have risen to over 90 zetta-bytes. R&D, simulations, facilities, equipment, mobile devices, and social interaction constitute this (Farrel, 2014). As for this writing, 90 percent of the global data was generated in the last two years (SAP, 2014).

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Business uses digital footprints and big data for business intelligence. That is, data sets gathered online can be consolidated to create profiles that are mined for patterns that can be used for marketing technologies such as data mining and business analytics enabling marketers and advertisers to identify and target specific individuals online. This is advantageous because their digital footprints always give the right market profile. Additionally, digital footprints can be used to build a positive online presence, which showcases an entity’s skills, interests, and experience. Moreover, most online sites enable people to manage their public information. A person’s public profile on a website such as Linkedin can expand his or her range of contacts across the professional network.

Consequentially, an individual can get access to employers, whereas businesses or employers can get access to employees whose digital footprints are accessible. Some employment segments such as public relations, the media, and marketing expect and always encourage people to have digital footprints. In fact, employment may be based on a person’s online creativity (Open University, 2014). Personal details are routinely collected by entities eager to market their products or services. Similarly, digital presence and transactions can be monitored by entities such as the government, or employment agencies mining information about an individual.

Speaking to Wired, Alastair Peterson, co-founder of Digital Shadows, contends that most social technologies, which are largely positive, can have menacing negative aspects for entities that choose not to manage their digital footprints (Collins, 2013). Internet users leave trillion gigabytes of data online annually. Surprisingly, it is possible to have a digital footprint of unborn children or businesses under the proposal, before even they make actual footsteps. For example, a fetus’s ultrasound images may end up on social media platforms such as Facebook. In the current information era, companies no longer have a fault-proof system to protect data (McCarthy, 2012).

The proliferation of handheld devices has increased digital presence as well as the trails of personal details. If a company’s digital footprint is deliberately exposed to the public, the impact could be detrimental, both to the reputation and the wider corporate image. The information that may be sensitive to the public domain includes customer data, details about board meetings, mergers, and acquisitions. In the same context, the company needs to worry about the security of their internal systems and information assets. With the advancement of internet technologies and the proliferation of mobile devices, cybercriminals also adjust their tools and techniques to synchronize with these developments.

This implies that intrusions have become more sophisticated in the sense that information assets can be stolen or exploited without noticing. Advanced Volatile Threats (AVTs) and Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs) have hit news headlines in the recent past (Lentini, 2013). This is due to their sophistication and impact on business and government systems. The perpetrators who use this type of attack wipe their digital footprints to avoid being traced. This needs extensive resources and skills. It is also documented that some of these attacks are state-sponsored (Mandiant, 2013; Lentini, 2013).

Cyber-attacks have become more sophisticated. In the same line, the reconnaissance phase of these intrusions has become the most critical one. This entails creating a picture of an entity’s internal operation through digital footprints. Attackers collect information about hardware, software, passwords, and user names. Engebretson (2013), notes that these bits of information are often collected from digital footprints. Banks and financial institutions are vulnerable to these kinds of attacks (Lentini, 2013). Companies can manage their digital footprints by training their staff to monitor or manage their digital shadows (Collins, 2013). In addition, companies can disable social media platforms within their intranet. However, this is challenging because employees will still access these platforms through their handheld devices.

Research and Development (R&D)

The Networking and Information Technology Research and Development (NITRD) is one of the cyber approaches in which the United States government uses federal funds to finance breakthroughs or innovations in advancing cybersecurity technologies. The NITRD program focuses on several research areas, including Big Data (BD), Cyber Security and Information Assurance (CSIA), and High Confidence Software and Systems (HCSS) among others (NITRD, 2015). In essence, the NITRD program provides a platform on which government agencies collaborate to coordinate their information technology R&D efforts. NITRD program operates under the National Science and Technology Council's (NSTC) Committee on Technology. According to NITRD (2015), CSIA coordinates events that are designed to prevent, detect, respond, and recover from intrusions that threaten the integrity, availability and confidentiality of computer or network-based systems.

Private entities and governed agencies employ the information form IT R&D to fortify the theory of cyber systems and enterprise security. Acts and Laws that are passed with the findings of the research from this program provide a standard and framework that government agencies adhere to protect the national critical infrastructure. The NITRD program can enable government agencies to improve their cybersecurity approaches or measures to make their networks or systems a moving target in cyberspace. To that end, they can develop a trusted cyberspace environment and when disasters or emergencies occur, the agencies can easily identify and mitigate cyber threats. New Smart technology can also allow agencies to have smarter control over their cyberspace and support resilient infrastructure.

The research and development is likely to be the most beneficial cyber security approach. For instance, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) prevents strategic attacks against the U.S. critical infrastructure. The agency employs diverse performers and advances approaches to improve cyber security technologies and techniques through extensive R&D that helps address the existing practical problems. For instance, the MEMEX program addresses software development and web search challenges. The central goal of MEMEX is to improve information extraction, accessibility, and sharing.

Policy Options for the U.S.

The goal of the cyber security policy suggestions, presented in this paper is to improve the existing collaboration between the government and the private sector to protect critical networks and intellectual property. There are steps that the United States should take to address or combat China’s capabilities and ensure that the U.S critical infrastructures and IP are secured. The suggestions that follow fall under legal, military, and diplomatic dimensions of the issue. In addition, they are subject to further deliberation.

One of the suggestions is the formation of an independent body to prosecute cybercriminal as well as have a deterrent effect on other actors. New legislation will be required and universally accepted, because the issue is global in nature. In addition, China and the U.S should consider passing laws that forbid entities or individuals from operating in these countries if it is proved that they are involved in cyber attacks. Since the line between CNA and CNE is thin, there should be consequences for the perpetrators that engage in persistent and sophisticated CNE. This should apply irrespective of actors. The U.S. should also consider giving skilled hackers immunity and funding if they accept to work in hand with the government’s effort to fight foreign hackers. This approach may lead to less retaliation for cyberattacks on the United States entities.

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Diplomatically, the United States has several paths to take. The government should raise the issue of cyber attacks both privately and publicly. This will continue to convey to Beijing the seriousness of the matter and the possible steps the U.S. will take in case of further attacks. In the same line, the sitting administration should match its words with actions. In addition, the government can also limit the operations of companies owned by China and other private companies that have benefited from the theft of IPs in the United States. On the basis of mutual trust and mutual respect, China has indicated that it is willing to have constructive cooperation and dialogue on cyber threats with the international community, including the U.S, so as to maintain security, peace and transparency of the internet. China acknowledges that cyber threats and internet security are global issues, and therefore, is ready to cooperate with other governments in this regard.

The government should also consider working with allies to encourage responsibility in cyberspace. For example, countries can form a preferential trade agreement (PTA) that will force members to follow a set of strict rules pertaining to cyberspace security. For the U.S. strategists, security should concentrate on its advanced C4ISR capabilities because they also represent vulnerabilities. The other reform that would enhance the U.S. and Chinese relations in this regard would be a joint effort to intensify their domestic Intellectual Property rights protection and promote enhancement. This approach would help the two governments to encourage research and innovation thus making both China and the U.S. competitive economies carry business.

The Role of the Federal Government in Support and Nurturing of the Emerging Cyber Security Technologies

In recognition of the gravity of cyber threats, the Federal government supports and natures the emerging cyber security technologies through various platforms, including government cybersecurity agencies, research institutions, and Public-Private Partnership (PPP). For example, in an effort to support e-commerce and e-government, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) established the National Cyber Security Center of Excellence in February 2012. It is worth pointing out that the government efforts to support the emerging security technologies may create benefits and drawbacks.

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Benefits of Government Support in Supporting and Nurturing Emerging Cyber Security Technologies

The federal government’s comprehensive approach to cybersecurity entails facilitating public-private partnerships (PPPs) to accelerate cybersecurity efforts for critical infrastructure. The government also funds research and development of advanced cybersecurity technologies to ensure that the cyber system is resilient. The federal government also supports various efforts directed at developing cybersecurity standards to provide a benchmark for protecting entities against known threats and vulnerabilities.

Through the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the government facilitates the sharing of relevant and actionable threat information. The government also advances risk management strategies: it improves decision making in reference to cyber threats. Further, the government supports industry based incident management and response. For example, the DHS works closely with the Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability (OE) and other government agencies on a continuous basis to reduce the risk of power outages due to cyber-attacks (Department of Energy, 2015).

Cybersecurity of critical infrastructure is a national priority evidenced by Executive Orders and national cybersecurity framework. Such government-based approaches intend to increase the resilience of the national critical infrastructure. Since physical security and cybersecurity are increasingly interrelated, the DHS continues to partner with the critical infrastructure community (owners and operators) to fortify the existing Cybersecurity Framework to protect critical infrastructure cybersecurity (U. S. Department of Homeland Security, 2015).

With these approaches in mind, it is apparent that the government’s involvement is beneficial. By managing incidents, the government facilitates the development and accessibility of network protection tools to improve intrusion detection and prevention. Government tools also enable stakeholders to improve recovery, remediation, and restoration capabilities. The other benefit of government support is that security measures or advancements are sustained. Through PPPs, critical information sharing is created and sustained.

PPPs are a partnership arrangement between the governments and the private sector to finance the operation or construction of expensive fixed assets such as data centers, tunnels, electricity grid, roads, and bridges (IMF, 2009; Zhang, 2005; World Bank, 2014). Public-Private Partnerships can take various names or forms, including Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) schemes, Private Finance Initiatives (PFI), and Build-Own-Operate-Transfer schemes among others (IMF, 2009).

As noted at the Conference of European Directors of Roads (2009), some of the advantages of PPP include the development of customer-oriented service, integration of the private sector’s expertise, optimization of project cycles and capital as well as the development of new business opportunities. For example, the Department of Energy partners with entities in the private sector to develop the smart grid (the U. S. Department of Energy, 2014). Such projects need not only funding from the private sector but also a comprehensive approach to ensure that all stakeholders are involved to minimize vulnerabilities.

The government support also builds a culture of security in the cyberspace. Through extensive education, training, and communication programs, the best practices pertaining to cybersecurity are encouraged to be spontaneous and anticipated among all stakeholders. As noted above, the federal government assesses and monitors cyber risk. For that reason, it funds the development of tools to assist the private sector in assessing their cybersecurity posture to enable them to speed up their ability to mitigate potential cyber threats and risks. In the same context, the government develops and implements up-to-date protective measures intended to reduce cyber risk.

Through extensive research, design, development, experimentation, and testing, the cyber system vulnerabilities are identified and mitigation options are established leading to fortification of control systems (Department of Energy, 2015). For example, OE designed and implemented the Cybersecurity for Energy Delivery Systems (CEDS) program to help owners of electric and gas assets in the energy sector to develop the cyber solution for delivering energy through integrated planning and targeting R&D efforts.

The CEDS program stresses the partnership among the government, universities, industry, national laboratories, and consumers to advance R&D in cybersecurity that is customized to the unique performance requirements, design, and operational environment of energy delivery systems. The goal of the program is to lessen the risk of power disruptions due to cyber incidents as well as survive an organized cyber-attack with no loss of critical functionalities. According to the Department of Energy (2015), CEDS has resulted in augmented security of energy delivery systems nationwide.

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Drawbacks of Government Support in Supporting and Nurturing Emerging Cyber Security Technologies

Despite presenting numerous advantages, the PPP involves higher transaction or financial costs. Further, the contractual structure is complex (CEDR, 2009; Van Marrewijk, Clegg, Pitsis, & Veenswijk, 2008). Due to the complexity of sharing arrangements for profits and risk of the assets that may be documented in the PPP contracts, the economic owner of the fixed asset is commonly unclear and many issues arise. For example, it is challenging to highlight whether a PPP is a private corporation as in the case of NGOs or a general government unit. The definition of PPP as a government unit or a private company is the nature of the debt securities issued by the PPI.

Besides the legal arrangements, the nature of the relationship can be analyzed using accounting standards. Successful PPP also requires an efficient structure tailored to the conditions of the project. Potential problems can also be resolved using a precise and efficient risk allocation structure. Further, the legal and contractual framework must be stable. In addition, the bidding process should be transparent.

Furthermore, the public entity should establish clear objectives with reasonable expectations for the private party. The government entities are fundamentally different from commercial entities in several ways: processes of generating revenue, budgetary obligations, organizational purposes, and propensity for longevity. Consequentially, the difference requires separate financial and accounting standards to provide information that meets the needs of stakeholders to evaluate the accountability of the partnership and to make social, political, and economic decisions (Mattli, 2005; World Bank, 2014).

Recommendations and Conclusion

Big data, cloud computing, and mobility present numerous challenges to both private and public organizations. However, they are also beneficial in numerous ways. Cloud computing promises flexibility, cost savings, and scalability without the need to overhaul legacy systems. On the other hand, mobility is attractive because of its prospects to change the way the government employees or business people handle their operations; mobility can make government jobs attractive to individuals in the private sector. Big data is perceived as wildcard but has the potential of inducing the entrepreneurial mindset in government agencies, as both private and public entities consider building new performance models based on the information minded from raw data that has been untapped.

For emerging transformational technologies such as big data and mobility, comprehensive cybersecurity must be fundamental. In various studies and surveys, most participants agree that an integrated cybersecurity approach to implementing transformational technologies such as big data solutions, cloud computing, and mobility initiatives would benefit their entities and contribute to an economical and affordable approach to storing and sharing information. Such an integrated approach would include coordination and optimization of security in all segments of the implementation, including network servers or computers, applications, and virtualization. Security would be implemented on each layer and around the entire architecture.

One of the most common online activities is sharing information with friends. This includes posting photos, videos, texts, and commenting on other people’s posts. Central to this activity is the advent and advancement of social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and MySpace. Every bit of information posted online contributes to a personal digital footprint. When information is shared with friends or colleagues online, it is likely to be viewed by other parties. In addition, the shared information will certainly stay online longer. Therefore, people should be responsible and cautious about the prices of data they post online. Digital footprint can be managed by keeping personal information private or limiting the things posted online. In the modern digital environment, entities are encouraged to add more bits of information about their identity and locations.

In addition, while making online transactions, personal details are collected and stored for years by entities that are interested in marketing products to internet users. Further, employers, education institutions, and the government also use digital footprints to profile people. The government and its security agencies can use digital footprints to identify, track, and locate cybercriminals, and criminal activities online. Digital footprints will continue to grow; therefore, individuals and businesses should manage their digital footprints to prevent loss of informational assets, as well as reputational damage.

Protecting the United States cyberspace is a comprehensive effort made by all parties from the private and public sectors. With the local, state, and national governments as well as the private sector involved, the cyberspace can be protected effectively. Digital forensics can be employed to establish the culprits but it is not enough. For that reason, real-time approaches like real-time forensic analysis are needed for an instantaneous approach to cybersecurity. Since digital footprints record personal information and patterns, it is imperative to ascertain where the trails lead us. Smart Grids are pivotal assets of national cybersecurity because they are integral parts of the critical infrastructure. Remote Agent technologies can also provide a detailed inspection of critical networks. Finally R&D is critical for the whole approach improvement of the United States cyber systems and networks.

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