Recently the IBM Center for Government Cybersecurity was launched in New York. IBM has been one of the largest global IT hardware and software providers for over 60 years. The center consolidates cyber security research, development and service programs associated with the IBM Enterprise Technology Solutions.
In the past the IBM Center for Government Cybersecurity was located in New York, but the company has decided to make the operation a regionalized operation rather than national. The IBM Center for Government Cybersecurity is going to be housed in IBM’s central office in New York. The center is expected to eventually house more than a thousand employees. The new center will feature secure lab space where federal government clients can collaborate on critical threat scenarios with insights from IBM technologies and other services.
In January of 2021 the Department of Homeland Security announced that they were investing over half a billion dollars in digital innovation at IBM to develop new approaches to combating cyber threats. According to a statement from the department, the goal of the new facility is to “provide a national laboratory environment for researchers, policy makers, and the military to research and deploy emerging cyber tools and policies”. In June of 2021 the House passed an authorizing bill for the IBM Center for Government Cybersecurity. A press release from the General Services Administration reads in part;
Currently IBM is one of the leading suppliers of computer systems and software for the federal government. IBM has successfully combined traditional business practices with state of the art technology to deliver an end-to-end information management, protection and security solution for the federal government. IBM is currently leveraging its experience to partner with the Department of Defense, U.S. agencies, critical facilities across the United States, international agencies, and international standard setting bodies to build a network of digitally hosted services for the Department of Defense and U.S. agencies. The company also leverages its extensive experience with highly secure computing, networks, software and managed services to help maintain a rapid response to vulnerabilities found in government networks. These are the primary objectives of IBM Center for Government Cybersecurity.
Over the last couple of years there have been some significant changes within the Department of Homeland Security concerning their strategy for addressing cyber vulnerabilities in government networks. First the DHS declared that it was not moving forward with the concept of a national information infrastructure, which essentially meant that all federal agencies would need to find their own ways to securely communicate with one another. This would leave the U.S. government with a patchwork approach to addressing potential cyber threats. Then in June 2021 the DHS announced that the National Cybersecurity Assistance Program or NCASP, would no longer be developed as previously planned. Instead the department is expected to develop a portfolio of shared security risks for the nation as a whole, rather than a single solution for the Department of Defense.
Now with the recently announced intention of the U.S. Department of Defense to move its operating system to a more permanent hybrid cloud storage environment, IBM has identified two primary business objectives for its customers along with supporting solutions: First, to deliver a single managed service to meet the needs of all federal customers while leveraging our experience in strategic management and mission-critical programs and operations. Second, to partner with the federal government in developing a more secure network environment for government customers and our global partner community. In this case we are announcing that IBM has developed a new portfolio of services to address both objectives. As a result, IBM is developing an architecture and a software stack for managing infrastructure, networks, software, and other key components required to provide a trustworthy infrastructural platform for both commercial and government customers. The new system will be deployed to government customers through a multi-tiered private cloud environment. IBM is leveraging our experience in mission-critical IT and virtualization to deliver a reliable, scalable, and flexible infrastructure to deliver this new capability.
The IBM Center for Government Cybersecurity does not have a clear roadmap of how this goal can be achieved. However, I believe that there are some lessons that the company and its former government officials can learn from their collaboration around the world to develop better cyber defense against external threats and internal threats to the United States. These lessons include:
IBM is taking the right step forward by leading the charge toward a more secure future. We must partner with every federal agency to develop new cyber defense strategy to keep America safe. I am pleased that IBM has joined the effort and have brought a fresh perspective to government IT engagement. This new facility in Washington D.C. will play a vital role as we work to strengthen our nation’s cyber defenses. IBM’s decision to partner with agencies across the government to build a shared platform will undoubtedly help our nation’s safety and security.