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Data-Driven Cybersecurity is a Superweapon



BOOZ ALLEN HAMILTON / KNOWLEDGE PARTNER PERSPECTIVE — Today, organizations are operating cyber, privacy, and security workstreams within many silos, which in turn, cause inefficiencies. The need to drive an integrated enterprise risk-based approach is a function vital across the mission, with workflows that can inform modernization throughout the organization.


Data-driven cybersecurity is an integrated approach that provides risk-based observability, a holistic perspective that gives stakeholders visibility across the enterprise while providing insights tailored to the organization’s priorities. This agile approach goes beyond tools, controls, and remediation to give security and network operations a predictive, proactive posture.


It is a revolutionary shift from today’s reactive stance. With the complexity of today’s infrastructure and applications, current cyber operation tools make it practical only to record events, not interpret them. Current tools alone do not equip analysts to understand what happened, who was affected, and how the problem can be fixed. Nor do they provide insight into the chances of impending threats in a particular area.


In contrast, data-driven cybersecurity combines focused data management with automation to integrate and process data, extracting insights and delivering intelligent alerts—delivering holistic cyber defense. Stakeholders receive operational visibility into the entire enterprise so they can not only record events, but also track them to their origin. They will have insight into patterns, allowing them to anticipate threats and prevent attacks.


How is this achieved? Fusing and enriching data from the moment it enters the inventory—whether it arrives from an internal endpoint, a firewall, a sensor, network, or mobile device—makes it possible to structure data in a way that aligns with the organization’s risk priorities. The data is then channeled into analytics pipelines for processing, using AI to spot patterns and gain insights. When an incident occurs, AI-powered analytics help identify the root cause, while related alerts are automatically grouped so they can be addressed by a single action. Professionals will know the impact on their organization and which priorities they must respond to first.


Imagine one integrated workflow providing a unified picture in areas such as signatures, system properties, host-based logs, cyber compliance audits, and user activity—all grouped on a single dashboard. Instead of swiveling from one siloed application to another, analysts can work within one common toolset that provides a complete understanding of what is happening across applications and on the network.


Implementing this approach requires varied internal teams to collaborate, a step toward attaining the integrated IC approach of the future. Stakeholders can be further motivated to work together by the prospect of gaining shared awareness of vital data. Think of stakeholders from cyber operations, incident response, legal, compliance, and other teams having access to the same views, grounding each conversation in a shared context. And because data is being jointly managed and used, this reduces the costs of storing data while it delivers more value from those assets.


Creating such a unified workflow requires advanced technological expertise but that does not need to be a roadblock. Advancing cybersecurity is a national security priority, one of the areas the Intelligence Community (IC) is focusing on its “second epoch” transition to interoperable digital frameworks. IC teams can move faster by partnering with firms experienced in helping U.S. leaders secure modernization for sensitive missions.


Focusing on data promises a robust payoff. A data-driven approach can further areas like threat hunting and zero trust. It can also help intelligence organizations share data and insights to speed operations. Data-driven cybersecurity allows the IC to recognize data for what it is—a superweapon to help national security agencies move the mission forward.


Greg McCullough is the Director of Cyber Solutions and Cyber AI at Booz Allen Hamilton. He has over twenty years of experience developing cyber capabilities across the Defense market, while building, deploying, and scaling government custom products and solutions focused on securing networks and IT systems. Most recently, he has driven cyber analytics, automation, and key cyber integrations across the entire Federal and Commercial markets. He holds a BS in Computer Science from Butler University, a BS in Electrical Engineering from Purdue University, and an MS in Computer Science from George Washington University.