Zero Trust Architecture (ZTA) Project Team, 2022 winner
The lifeblood of USAGM’s business is the hundreds of hours of radio, TV, and digital content gathered, produced, stored, and distributed every day. Ensuring that this content, along with all the agency’s communications, personally identifiable information, and other sensitive data, is secure and protected is one of the most important responsibilities of the Office of Technology, Services, and Innovation (TSI).
USAGM’s success in providing sought-after reporting in media-restricted environments has made the agency and its employees’ frequent targets of cyber harassment, hacking, and impersonation, incidents that if successful could undermine the agency’s credibility and potentially threaten the lives of journalists. Every week USAGM’s cybersecurity team detects and stops hundreds of such threats, thus ensuring that audiences can reliably access authentic USAGM content.
As malicious actors search for new creative ways to infiltrate our systems, USAGM seeks innovative ways to bolster its defenses. One important new innovation is called Zero Trust Architecture (ZTA), a set of cybersecurity principles that move defenses from static, network-based perimeters to a focus on users, assets, and resources. ZTA is particularly important in a network like USAGM’s that includes remote users, mobile devices, and cloud-based systems that are not located within the agency’s network. While ZTA is now a requirement across the US federal government, many agencies — like USAGM — need help to fund the sizable investment required to implement it.
To address this need, TSI’s ZTA project team successfully applied for $6.2 million from GSA’s Technology Modernization Fund, making USAGM’s ZTA project one of only 38 to receive such funding since the TMF began. The application process is extremely competitive and requires demonstrating both need for funding and ability to deliver results if the funding is provided.
TMF funding will allow USAGM to better control access to its computer systems, tailor application access to individual users, introduce a centrally managed identity governance workflow that will solve many account management challenges and otherwise dramatically improve USAGM’s IT security posture, reducing the risk of identity fraud and unauthorized access.
The ZTA project team: “J.R.” Reeves, Liliana Nunez, Greg Gray, Kazi Fazal, Marianne Bowen, Adam Belida, Jonathan Ward, and Jim Russell. Financial analysis support to the team was provided by TSI’s Dannetta Dominick and OCFO’s Thomas Layou.