DHS reorganization creates new cybersecurity position
The move could mean more focus on cybersecurity issues
Chertoff, in the results of a review of the DHS structure he started after taking over as secretary in February, elevated the cybersecurity chief at the DHS several levels on the agency's organizational chart by creating a position of assistant secretary for cyber and telecommunications security. Several tech-oriented trade groups, including the Information Technology Association of America (ITAA) and the Cyber Security Industry Alliance, have repeatedly called for an assistant secretary to raise the profile of cybersecurity issues at the DHS.
The DHS did not release information about when it expected to have an assistant secretary in place.
An assistant secretary will have the authority to set policy and pull private industry into collaborations with government, ITAA President Harris Miller said recently. "The proof of the pudding is in the eating," Miller said. "Have we made enough progress yet in those areas? The clear answer is no."
IT groups have also suggested that a higher-level position with more authority would stop high turnover among government cybersecurity chiefs. The last DHS cybersecurity director, Amit Yoran, lasted about a year on the job.
Miller applauded Chertoff's decision to create the new position. Four bills introduced in Congress this year had also called on the DHS to create an assistant secretary of cybersecurity.
The DHS, when it was created in January 2003, didn't "give adequate focus" to cybersecurity, Miller said. He said the assistant secretary should establish lines of communication between government and private industry. In many cases, private industry sees cyberattacks sooner than government agencies do, he said, and there needs to be a "sophisticated, real-time, highly trusted" information-sharing mechanism between government and private companies.
An assistant secretary will be able to tie together several cybersecurity efforts within government, added Jack Danahy, CEO of Ounce Labs Inc., an IT security vendor. "Now there will be one voice telling the industry what government wants to do," said Danahy, who serves on a software security working group at DHS.
But some security experts have questioned the value of an assistant secretary, saying that without greater leadership from the top levels of the Bush administration, a new position may not improve cybersecurity much.
"If you don't have a strategy, does it matter what you call them?" said James Lewis, director of the Technology and Public Policy Program at the Center for Strategic & International Studies, a Washington think tank. "Can you think of an assistant secretary who's an advocate in Washington?"
Lewis suggested "no" is the correct answer to both questions. He acknowledged, in a recent interview, that on a symbolic level, a higher-level position could raise the profile of cybersecurity issues, but in practice, "I don't know if it makes much of a difference."
Chertoff's reorganization includes a number of other changes at the DHS, including the hiring of a chief medical officer to address medical preparedness, and the assignment of chief intelligence officer duties to the DHS assistant secretary for information analysis. Chertoff noted in a speech that the DHS has 10 intelligence-generating offices, and the role of the chief intelligence officer will be to coordinate all DHS intelligence.
- 15 Non-Certified IT Skills Growing in Demand
- How 19 Tech Titans Target Healthcare
- Twitter Suffering From Growing Pains (and Facebook Comparisons)
- Agile Comes to Data Integration
- Slideshow: 7 security mistakes people make with their mobile device
- iOS vs. Android: Which is more secure?
- 11 sure signs you've been hacked
If you use ‘password,’ one the worst passwords, as your password, fail to keep antivirus protection updated and don’t bother to deploy security patches to close critical vulnerabilities, then maybe you should consider working for the cybersecurity-clueless federal government; you’d fit right in, according to Senator Tom Coburn's cybersecurity and critical infrastructure report.
- IT Certification Study Tips
- Register for this Computerworld Insider Study Tip guide and gain access to hundreds of premium content articles, cheat sheets, product reviews and more.
- Changing the Way Government Works: Four Technology Trends that Drive Down Costs and Increase Productivity
- This paper discusses four technology-based approaches to improving processes and increasing
productivity while driving down department and agency costs.
- Pay-as-you-Grow Data Protection: IBM Tivoli's Full-featured Data Protection Suite for Small to Medium Businesses
- IBM Tivoli Storage Manager Suite for Unified Recovery gives small and medium businesses the opportunity to start out with only the individual solutions...
- Streamline Data Protection with IBM Tivoli Storage Manager Operations Center
- IBM Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM) has been an industry-standard data protection solution for two decades. But, where most competitors focus exclusively on Backup...
- Simplify and Consolidate Data Protection for Better Business Results
- Learn about IBM® Tivoli® Storage Manager Operations Center, which provides advanced visualization, built-in analytics and integrated workflow automation features that leapfrog traditional backup...
- HP HAVEn: See the big picture in Big Data
- HP HAVEn is the industry's first comprehensive, scalable, open, and secure platform for Big Data. Enterprises are drowning in a sea of data... All Government IT White Papers
- Meg Whitman presents Unlocking IT with Big Data During this Web Event you will hear Meg Whitman, President and CEO, HP discuss HAVEn - the #1 Big Data platform, as well...
- The New Way to Work Knowledge Vault This Knowledge Vault focuses on how, in today's increasingly virtual world, it's more important than ever to engage deeply with employees, suppliers, partners,...
- Getting Ready for BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10.2 Find out how BlackBerry® Enterprise Service 10 helps organizations address the full spectrum of EMM challenges, while balancing the needs of both the...
- Containerization Options: How to Choose the Best DLP Solution for Your Organization This webcast outlines a framework for making the right choice when it comes to containerization approaches, along with the pros and cons of...
- Mobile Apps and Devices Slash Customer Cycle Time Consolidated Engineering Laboratories' field employees used to collect data on triplicate forms that were sometimes hard to read and difficult to manage. After...
- All Government IT Webcasts