Challenges await Obama in bid to build up federal IT security
President Bush is leaving several ongoing IT security projects to his successor. But even more work is needed to protect federal systems.
Computerworld - As President-elect Barack Obama prepares to take office, the task of upgrading the security of federal computer systems continues to be a work in progress.
Several cybersecurity initiatives launched during the Bush administration are still years away from being completed. Others are closer to completion but don't do enough by themselves to defend networks and systems against increasingly sophisticated attacks, according to IT security analysts.
And, they said, resolving the security issues will require Obama to focus on more than just finishing the ongoing initiatives.
For starters, he needs to end the policy of tying federal cybersecurity efforts so closely to the post-9/11 war on terror, said Gartner Inc. analyst John Pescatore. "The terrorist attacks sent the Bush administration in the wrong direction" on cybersecurity, Pescatore said, adding that more immediate threats to federal systems have been overlooked.
Progress has been made, claimed Karen Evans, administrator of e-government and IT at the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Evans said several security initiatives launched over the past few years are already making, or will soon make, a difference.
At the top of her list is a 2004 mandate by President Bush that required federal agencies to issue new smart-card identity credentials to all employees and contractors. But even that program hasn't been fully implemented. Agencies were supposed to finish issuing the new ID cards in late October, but most will need at least two more years to do so.
Other projects that Evans pointed to include a recent upgrade of federal networks to the more secure IPv6 protocol and the Trusted Internet Connections program, under which agencies are working to reduce their external network connections.
Evans also cited the Federal Desktop Core Configuration (FDCC) project, which is aimed at cutting costs and boosting security by requiring agencies to employ standard security settings on all Windows PCs.
Earlier this year, President Bush also put in motion a highly classified, multiagency program called the Cyber Initiative, with a goal of bolstering the nation's ability to detect and respond to cyberthreats against critical infrastructure targets.
Tom Kellerman, vice president of security awareness at Core Security Technologies in Boston, said the Cyber Initiative marked an "awakening" in Washington about the need for stronger cybersecurity efforts.
But Kellerman, who is a member of a commission that's developing cybersecurity recommendations for Obama, said much remains to be done. "The existing administration has only just begun to pay attention to cybersecurity" as a national security issue, he said.
Many of the ongoing initiatives are helping to improve security in bits and pieces, Pescatore said. But, he added, they were the result of "random edicts" from the OMB, not broad cybersecurity objectives.
This pilot fish is a contractor at a military base, working on some very cool fire-control systems for tanks. But when he spots something obviously wrong during a live-fire test, he can't get the firing-range commander's attention.
- 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.
- Reduce federal infrastructure risk with compliance management and situational awareness
- IBM continuous monitoring and management solutions deliver real-time situational awareness to help federal agencies understand vulnerabilities, and protect the infrastructure.
- Enable secure remote access to 3D data without sacrificing visual perfomance
- Design and manufacturing companies must adapt quickly to the demands of an increasingly global and competitive economy. To speed time to market for...
- The Truth About Virtual Computing for CAD
- If you're a user of graphics-intensive software such as 3D modeling, simulation and analysis, and visualization, you might be skeptical about moving to...
- Virtually Delivered High Performance 3D Graphics
- "A picture is worth a thousand words." That old phrase is as true today as it ever was. Pictures (i.e., those with heavy...
- Simplifying Product Design In A Complex World
- Product design engineering has moved far beyond the confines of ever-more powerful workstations. Companies can't afford to restrict projects to using only local... All Government IT White Papers
- What should I look for in a Next Generation Firewall? SANS Provides Guidance With so many vendors claiming to have a Next Generation Firewall (NGFW), it can be difficult to tell what makes each one different....
- Why Are Customers Really Deploying an NGFW? It seems every IT Security expert is talking about the NGFW, but what are people really doing? This webcast covers 5 real-world customer...
- Charting Your Analytical Future - "Making predictive analytics part of your business processes" Webinar This session will show how predictive analytics can be used throughout the organization by anyone looking for answers and how organizations can make...
- On-demand webinar - 7 Keys to Service Catalog Implementation Success Watch this webinar to learn 7 crucial keys to make your service catalog a success!
- Transform Your IT Service Management Watch this webinar, to learn how EasyVista can increase IT productivity & efficiency and deliver streamlined & integrated IT Service & Asset Mgmt.
- All Government IT Webcasts