2019 Government Innovation Awards
TIC in the cloud
The Trusted Internet Connections initiative is a relative dinosaur in federal IT. Launched in 2007, it aimed to protect federal networks by preventing the proliferation of internet access points. It was a sensible approach at the time but has grown increasingly impractical as more government systems move to the cloud. TIC policies have evolved, but not fast enough for many agencies’ real-world mission needs.
The National Transportation Safety Board was struggling with latency and connection problems as it routed mobile workers’ connections through a VPN client to the agency’s data center then through the on-premises security stack and back out through a TIC, where NTSB employees could finally connect to cloud services or the open internet. The agency’s solution was TIC-in-the-Cloud.
NTSB deployed Zscaler’s cloud security platform and a software-defined wide-area network to create a zero-trust security model. Traffic now flows over broadband and cellular connections rather than a VPN. And by shifting the security stack from the data center to the cloud, NTSB can securely connect remote employees directly to cloud services and internet destinations, regardless of device, location or network.
Other agencies face similar challenges, and U.S. CIO Suzette Kent announced TIC policy revisions in mid-September that add three use cases to better accommodate today’s mobile and cloud-powered missions. All agencies must update their network and system boundary policies within a year to reflect this new guidance, and NTSB’s efforts could provide a much-needed roadmap.
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