February 11, 2010, 2:36 PM — Most U.S. federal government agencies are expected to meet cybersecurity defense requirements by buying managed security services from carriers such as AT&T, Qwest, Sprint and Verizon through the federal umbrella telecommunications contract known as Networx.
These purchases come at a time when the U.S. government is shifting its strategy for defending federal networks against a rising tide of hacking attacks launched by foreign governments and criminals. Rather than focusing on consolidating external Internet connections, the government is directing agencies to deploy a standard set of security tools and processes on all of their Internet connections (See "U.S. Internet security plan revamped.").
This represents a shift for the federal Trusted Internet Connections (TIC) Initiative, services for which are available on the Networx contract under the acronym MTIPS, which stands for Managed Trusted Internet Protocol Services.
Carriers say it will be less expensive for agencies to purchase TIC-related services through the Networx contract than to build their own TIC access points.
"There's maybe a 10% to 15% price differential between an ordinary Internet circuit and an MTIPS circuit, and for that you're getting antivirus and all the other scanning," says Diana Gowen, senior vice president of Qwest Government Services.
The carriers are gearing up for a flood of TIC-related business in 2010, as soon as they pass the extensive certification and accreditation processes required by DHS, the General Services Administration and individual agencies.
AT&T announced its first TIC-related deal on Thursday: an eight-year, $5 million award from the Federal Trade Commission that includes managed security services, Web hosting and intrusion notification. (See "AT&T wins $5M cybersecurity deal with FTC.")
"This is the first customer that has agreed to let us publicly announce that they have awarded us their MTIPS service," says Jeff Mohan, Networx program director for AT&T Government Solutions.