TIC and Federal Workspace Modernization

Security Domain
 

Trusted Internet Connection (TIC) Modernization

 The Challenge

In 2017, a Federal Agency supported by Practical Solutions, Inc. was selected by the TIC Modernization Group to test alternative TIC implementations in the Azure cloud environment. For this pilot implementation we were asked, if needed, to operate outside of the requirements of existing TIC policy, including M-08-05 Implementation of Trusted Internet Connections and other related TIC memorandums. We explored a variety of different possibilities while ensuring that the proposed changes did not introduce an unacceptable level of cybersecurity risk.

We worked closely with OMB, DHS, GSA, and the National Security Council to ensure that appropriate visibility into network activity was provided and that the implementation helped to inform TIC and National Cybersecurity Protection System (NCPS) modernization efforts. At the end of the pilot, we were assessed by DHS/Sandia and met or exceeded the intent of all critical functions for both the TIC 2.0 and draft 3.0 Reference Architectures.

Practical has assisted clients and can assist other clients with making improvements to Protections and Situational Awareness, by removing the current barriers associated with the TIC and enable commercial cloud migration. Under the current Networx contract, agencies who do not have their own TIC capabilities must procure TIC services by purchasing the full suite of Managed Trusted Internet Protocol Services (MTIPS) services, which can be extremely costly to a small, independent, or quasi-federal organizations.  

TIC Modernization General Conclusions

The implementation was based on the principles of situational awareness, protection and Incident response involved leveraging Microsoft Azure cloud-based security tools and products

 Situational awareness involved achieving comprehensive visibility across the cloud and on-premise IT enterprise. The improved visibility attained during the pilot is best demonstrated by an observed 81% decrease in average time of detection for security events across the environment. Comparatively, the Managed Trusted Internet Protocol Service (MTIPS) functions more like a vendor provided shared service and offers limited direct visibility into network traffic and security alerts.

Protection improvements involved the implementation of a cloud architecture based on micro-segmentation principles with integrated Identity based network access control (NAC). We employed software defined networks to establish a virtual Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) network segment that includes DDoS protection, Intrusion Detection/Protection Service (IDS/IPS) and Virtual Firewalls. User behavior activities and two-way threat indicator sharing were fundamental in transforming how we improved the agency’s security posture. For example, “out of the box” configuration of cloud tools includes foreign login events in real-time along with detailed activities occurring over each associated session. Existing MTIPS services don’t directly expose foreign logins and activity, especially at the level of detail available in the native cloud tools and services

Integrating the management of cloud IT assets and on-premise IT assets using native cloud tools substantially improved the effectiveness and efficiency of agency incident response processes. As we fully operationalized native cloud tools and updated existing incident response processes, the agency experienced a “snow ball effect” that was generated by executing and continually improving the incident response process. The end state ultimately resulting in a 91% decrease in the time taken to resolve incidents.

The TIC pilot also achieved notable outcomes in the areas of network performance and financial impacts. By establishing a dedicated, private network route between the MPLS network and the Microsoft network edge (ExpressRoute) we experienced a latency reduction of nearly 75% .

 A cost comparison of MTIPS and native cloud tools revealed a significant overlap of tools and services. The redundancies offered an opportunity to explore and achieve cost savings while improving capabilities and modernizing infrastructures.

 

Practical Solutions, Inc.

We take pride in our ability and success to provide federal and commercial clients with the most balanced and practical solution for their needs. Our team consolidates their knowledge and experience to synthesize the most realistic and efficient end-to-end solution across any industry and domain. From business management and process improvement to cloud migration, data analytics, or enterprise operations, we will have a practical solution for you.

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