CDM Defend
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Latest CDM phase gives agencies greater flexibility to operationalize security tools

Federal agencies will have greater flexibility to acquire the tools they need to secure their networks using the latest acquisition phase of the Department of Homeland Security’s CDM Defend program, say cybersecurity experts.

DHS’s Continuous Diagnostic and Mitigation program, now in its third phase known as DEFEND, allows agencies to acquire a wider assortment of security tools and services than in the previous two phases of the program. But more significantly, it gives them the opportunity to acquire a more “human-centric” cybersecurity approach to their agency’s network security and data protection. The wider assortment of tools allows agencies to analyze user behavior, rather than having to rely on piecemeal security products.

In a podcast interview with FedScoop, cybersecurity and network experts from Booz Allen Hamilton and Forcepoint discuss ways agencies can take advantage of the expertise of integrators to get the most out of CDM tools now available through General Services Administration acquisition contracts.

Agencies will begin to see real value from CDM tools and data to support risk-based decision making, says Greg Decker, principal at Booz Allen Hamilton and chief engineer for the firm’s Department of Homeland Security CDM program. The goal now for agencies is to “operationalize” their CDM security capabilities.

Decker explains that IT service providers — including Booz Allen Hamilton, which recently won a major CDM task order — are able to work with agencies to build a tailored security strategy, using a wide array of product and service capabilities under the CDM program.

Agency leaders, however, need to carefully weigh their needs and what they are trying to accomplish before choosing a vendor, says Eric Trexler, vice president of global governments and critical infrastructure at Forcepoint. This will prepare leaders to answer key questions about which critical data or infrastructure needs protection and what will best serve the agency’s mission and address its business problems.

“The worst thing I typically see is when people … just ask for products,” said Trexler. Instead of piecemealing a security strategy together, tool-by-tool, agencies can lean on integrators to look at the securing networks from a “dynamic data protection perspective.”

With CDM data, agency leaders will be able to quickly identify unauthorized software or hardware on their networks as well as have access to their dashboard to check the agency’s security posture before moving forward with an authorization package for a mission critical system.

“It’s not just a product play,” says Trexler. “It’s understanding the needs of an agency and then bringing capabilities to bear to work with the integrator partner to help provide those capabilities so that we can operationalize the CDM capabilities.”

Decker adds that if agencies have purchased security tools and are not getting the value out of those, it is either because the tools were not implemented correctly, or agencies are only using a fraction of the capabilities.

That’s another reason why he suggests integrators can help agencies shorten the time it takes  to operationalize their security capabilities.

CDM allows agencies to get a clearer picture of their risks and access the funding, tools and capabilities needed in this complex and fast-moving world of cloud, mobility, and IoT. Read Eric Trexler’s LinkedIn article for more information on the program, and visit to learn more about Forcepoint’s unique approach to leverage CDM to solve government’s cybersecurity challenges.

This podcast was produced by FedScoop and underwritten by Forcepoint.