The Role Of Geospatial Data In Cybersecurity

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Geospatial data relates to information associated with locations around the world. It often comes to mind when people use navigational apps. It does factor into those tools but could improve cybersecurity, too.

Bringing Geospatial Data to Access Control and Asset Management

Access control is a crucial part of cybersecurity because it ensures people can use the resources they need. At the same time, it does not unnecessarily provide access to compromise a company’s security practices. The goal is to reduce friction for the user while upholding an organization’s security standards.

Various options exist for setting the parameters that allow or deny a person to utilize specific resources. Some companies use geospatial data to create a virtual boundary around an individual or device. For example, an authorized person might have permission to access a database of confidential information at work, but not from home — or even a place five miles away from the workplace.

This approach can also work for physical devices linked to a company’s network. If a worker ignores a rule that an expensive connected gadget must stay on-site and tries to bring it home, an administrator could get an alert and take further action. Access control tools typically allow setting permissions for groups or implementing custom parameters based on an organization’s needs. Geospatial data can apply to those specifics, too.

Assessing How to Improve GPS Systems for National Security

Global positioning system (GPS) data recently caught the attention of the Trump Administration. The topic caused the United States’ leader to issue an executive order asking for public input on the uses for GPS and similar technologies affecting positioning, navigation and timing.

Besides getting more familiar with the current use cases, federal officials sought to understand how to strengthen such systems’ cybersecurity. They recognized the nation’s already high and increasing dependence on those technologies. Poor cybersecurity could directly harm the country’s efforts to stay safe from foreign hackers or put the United States behind other nations concerning technology use.

After gathering the requested information, the team working on this project aims to release the final version of a report on the matter by February 2021. However, it will offer a draft version sooner, and the public can comment on the content so far.

Taking a Broader Look at the Attack Landscape

Businesses rely on mapping data to improve their operations in a variety of ways. For example, a dental practice could create a map showing the breakdown of patient locations and where facility representatives should invest in more marketing to attract more people. Alternatively, a divorce lawyer might use one to see which areas of a city or state are most likely to need their services based on population data.

Cybersecurity professionals do something similar by tracking real-time instances of cyberattacks. A variety of interactive maps exist, including those with color-coding and filtering to help users efficiently digest the data and act upon it when necessary.

These location-based resources help IT security experts notice trends they might otherwise overlook. They’re then better prepared to prevent and deal with attacks.

Understanding the Impact of Cyber Events

Geographic information system (GIS) content is another type of geospatial data that influences cybersecurity. When cybersecurity practitioners connect online activity to a geospatial layer, they get a clearer picture of where network activity happens and from which devices. Having such details becomes crucial for mission-critical networks, such as those associated with communications, energy supplies or disaster recovery.

Tools are available today that allow integrating GIS data within an organization’s existing technological infrastructure. Users can also share the data with other authorized parties, facilitating collaboration between departments.

Besides enabling users to understand how future cyberattacks could affect them, these innovations promote faster, more confident recoveries from malicious infiltrations and can prevent them in the first place. Moreover, they can reveal which aspects of a network have the most unaddressed issues, enabling cybersecurity professionals to prioritize their work.

Improving Cybersecurity Efforts

These examples show why it’s essential to include geospatial data in cybersecurity plans. As hackers’ attacks get more elaborate and damaging, security teams must determine the best ways to keep networks and digital infrastructures safe. Geospatial data can provide useful information that leads to more effective decision-making.

Devin Partida
Devin Partida is a writer and blogger focusing on IT, smart tech and cybersecurity topics. She is also the Editor-in-Chief at ReHack.com

Devin Partida Web Site

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