To have quality data an agency first needs to have quality software, which means agencies must modernize and develop their software and that also requires implementing zero trust principles, according to an official from the Department of the Army.

Lauren Pavlik, chief of Data and Software Services for the Enterprise Cloud Management Agency at the Office of the CIO at the Department of the Army, said by enabling access and availability of data, the Army can provide data at the speed and scale the warfighter needs and it’s essential to have an architecture that supports that.

“If we modernize our software and we modernize the way that we get our data and standardize it, it’s going to accelerate many areas, including AI and machine learning. But we can’t do that without zero trust,” Pavlik said during a virtual event on May 23 organized by Maximus.

The security of software used by the Department of Defense (DoD) is vital to the department’s ability to perform critical national security functions. The DoD’s Software Modernization Strategy and Implementation Plan makes a point to prioritize cybersecurity measures.

“Cybersecurity and software modernization go hand in hand, it all must be woven together. Having that access control and attribute-based permission is essential to making this a success. And having that visibility and knowledge and trust at the edge for the warfighter is essential in this space,” Pavlik said.

She added that including zero trust principles in modernizing software is also about making sure that the right person has the right data at the right time. This, Pavlik explained, is one of the main elements of zero trust.

In addition, ongoing visibility and continuous monitoring are essential to ensuring the service branch has quality and secure software. Setting up its systems with continuous monitoring tools ensured the Army obtained visibility into threats.

“Active cybersecurity monitoring and effective incident management ensure that the soldiers always know that when they’re going to battle, they know that that it’s trustworthy,” Pavlik said.

“They’re not walking into something dangerous. And it’s imperative to get this right and that we stay soldier-focused in this space. Doing that hand in hand with zero and our rapid software modernization and data platforms is essential to support the soldier,” she added.

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Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.