Dr. Chase Cunningham - Defend & Conquer Weekly Review February 1, 2024

  • News
  • By Daniel Michan
  • Published on February 1

As the world becomes increasingly connected, the need for robust cybersecurity measures has never been more important. Cyberattacks are on the rise, with hackers targeting both individuals and organizations. In this blog post, we will discuss some key updates and insights into the field of cybersecurity, focusing on the concept of zero trust and its importance in today's digital landscape.

Zero Trust Basics for K-12 Organizations

The first topic we will explore is the implementation of zero trust in K-12 organizations. Zero trust is an approach to cybersecurity that assumes no user or device should be trusted by default, regardless of their position within the network. An article on CybersecurityHQ provides valuable insights into how K-12 organizations can implement the five pillars of zero trust.

If you are involved with a school or have children attending one, understanding and sharing knowledge about zero trust can greatly enhance cybersecurity measures within the education sector. Implementing zero trust practices can help safeguard sensitive data and protect against potential cyber threats.

Government Progress for Zero Trust

The next topic we will delve into is the progress of zero trust implementation across federal agencies. In an update from the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), the General Services Administration (GSA), and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), it appears that the government is making significant strides towards adopting zero trust.

While moving a large organization like the government towards a zero trust model is undoubtedly challenging, it is encouraging to see progress being made. The goal is to fully implement zero trust practices across federal agencies by 2027, aligning with optimal cybersecurity standards.

Understanding the Stalling of Zero Trust Implementation

Despite the growing recognition of the importance of zero trust, there has been a notable delay in its implementation. An article on SC Media explores the reasons behind this delay, as highlighted by a survey conducted by the Cybersk Alliance.

According to the survey, many security and IT leaders acknowledge that zero trust is the right path forward, but less than one-third have actually implemented it within their organizations. The high cost of implementation, complexities of integrating zero trust into existing workflows, and difficulties in demonstrating return on investment (ROI) have been cited as common barriers.

To overcome these challenges, it is crucial to provide clarity and education on zero trust, specifically addressing cost concerns. Organizations should reevaluate their implementation strategies to ensure they are cost-effective and align with their security needs.

Biometrics and Zero Trust: A Match Made in Heaven or Hell?

Biometrics, such as fingerprint or facial recognition, offer unique advantages for authentication and are often integrated within a zero trust framework. An article by Lewis Columbus explores the intersection of biometrics and zero trust, highlighting both the promise and concerns associated with this technology.

While biometrics provide enhanced security and convenience, concerns about novel attacks and privacy issues persist. However, the author expresses confidence in biometrics' potential within the realm of zero trust. Personal experiences, such as using biometrics for secure access to banking accounts, reinforce the idea that biometrics can play a valuable role in bolstering cybersecurity.

The Impact of Cybersecurity Events on Schools: A Case Study

Highlighting the very real threats schools face in the digital age, we examine a recent cybersecurity incident that led to the closure of an entire school district in New Jersey. CBS News reported that a cybersecurity event forced officials to shut down schools, leaving parents scrambling for alternative childcare arrangements.

This incident serves as a stark reminder of the vulnerabilities educational institutions face, emphasizing the importance of implementing robust cybersecurity measures. Zero trust principles, when implemented effectively, can help mitigate such risks and protect students' personal information.

The SEC Rules for Cybersecurity Management

In a Wall Street Journal article, details emerge about cybersecurity management requirements under the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) rules. The article highlights the filings from Lockheed and other organizations that aim to provide direction for security governance disclosures.

The article delves into specific considerations and line items that organizations should be aware of when facing SEC-related cybersecurity issues. Compliance with these regulations ensures transparency and accountability regarding an organization's cybersecurity practices.

Cyberattacks on Critical Infrastructure: A 911 System Affected

Cybersecurity incidents can have significant repercussions on critical infrastructure. In Bucks County, Pennsylvania, an ongoing cyber attack disrupted the county's computer-aided dispatch system, affecting the processing of 911 calls. However, the county's operational phone and radio systems remained functional, albeit with temporary disconnections from certain databases.

This incident highlights the importance of safeguarding critical infrastructure from cyber threats. Zero trust principles can help in fortifying these essential systems and reducing the potential for future attacks.

SolarWinds' Attempt to Evade Responsibility

Finally, we turn our attention to SolarWinds, a company embroiled in controversy following a massive cyber attack. SolarWinds is seeking the dismissal of an SEC cybersecurity suit, claiming that it appropriately disclosed risks before the attack occurred.

While the legalities surrounding this case remain uncertain, it underscores the pressing need for organizations to prioritize cybersecurity and take proactive measures to protect sensitive data. A comprehensive zero trust approach can play a pivotal role in minimizing the impact of cyber attacks.


In conclusion, the field of cybersecurity is an ever-evolving landscape, with zero trust emerging as a crucial framework for protecting organizations from cyber threats. Implementing zero trust practices can help organizations, including K-12 institutions, enhance their overall cybersecurity posture.

Additionally, the progress being made by the government and the recognition of zero trust as the way forward by security and IT leaders signify positive advancements in the cybersecurity landscape. Overcoming implementation challenges and educating leaders and decision-makers about the benefits of zero trust are crucial for widespread adoption.

As technology continues to evolve and cyber threats become more sophisticated, embracing zero trust principles and other cybersecurity best practices is essential for organizations to stay smart, safe, and secure. By prioritizing robust cybersecurity measures, we can collectively build a safer digital environment for the future.