DHS cyber division taking shape, despite concerns about waning influence
Amit Yoran will take the helm later this month
Computerworld - ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- A principal adviser to the new head of the Department of Homeland Security's National Cyber Security Division (NCSD) has reiterated that the division and its industry outreach program remain key players at the DHS and that it has a direct line to senior officials, including Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge and President Bush.
Speaking here at the Digital Security Conference, Sallie McDonald, the DHS's senior executive responsible for outreach and awareness efforts, said yesterday that the NCSD "is properly placed within the department" and has been described by Ridge as part of the "heartbeat of the agency."
The conference was sponsored by Washtenaw Community College and the Walsh College Information Assurance Center.
McDonald's comments follow recurring criticism from experts and former administration officials who fear that the current cybersecurity leadership has been buried too deep within the DHS bureacracy to be effective. Critics fear that the agency may have lost some of its influence with the departure this year of Richard Clarke, the former chairman of the President's Critical Infrastructure Protection Board and the nation's first de facto cybersecurity czar.
Those critics, including Clarke, have said repeatedly that not having the ear of the president or Ridge could spell the loss of momentum on the public/private cybersecurity partnership agenda.
A spokesman for the DHS said Amit Yoran, whose last day of official employment at Symantec Corp. was yesterday, will take the helm at the NCSD during the last week of this month (see story). McDonald praised Yoran, calling him the right person for the right job at the right time.
McDonald said the NCSD is now focused on reducing vulnerabilities throughout the nation's critical infrastructures, establishing a national response center at the newly formed US-CERT at Carnegie Mellon University (see story), and developing a cybersecurity outreach program targeted at small businesses and home users as well as large companies.
The NCSD is also taking the lead on a cybersituation awareness project that can conduct near-real-time analysis of incident data nationwide, said McDonald. The division is currently working with SRI International, Symantec and Computer Associates International Inc. to develop an automated capability that would enable data to be shared immediately with various private-sector-run Information Sharing and Analysis Centers. The research and development effort includes plans to build a nonproprietary system that would allow any organization in the nation, regardless of IT infrastructure, to feed data into the incident analysis system.
"We will be deploying this in the federal sector starting at the US-CERT first so we can see in real time what is happeningacross the nation," McDonald said.
She also hinted at a series of "big announcements" the DHS may make in the next few months regarding its work with Internet service providers on possibly offering users free firewalls. That move would be part of an effort to simplify the security procedures for small businesses that don't have large corporate IT staffs.
Read more about Security in Computerworld's Security Topic Center.
- 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
- The 12 PCI DSS 3.0 requirements addressed by Peer 1 Hosting This handy quick reference outlines the 12 PCI DSS 3.0 requirements, who needs to be compliant and how Alert Logic solutions address the...
- Defense Throughout the Vulnerability Life Cycle This whitepaper provides insight into how to leverage threat and log management technologies to protect your IT assets throughout their vulnerability life cycle.
- Mobile Policy Checklist Here's what to consider when putting together a mobile policy designed to support a highly productive workforce.
- Securing BYOD Mobile computing is becoming so ubiquitous that people no longer bat an eye seeing someone working two devices simultaneously. Individuals and organizations are...
- Live Webcast On-demand webinar: "Mobility Mayhem: Balancing BYOD with Enterprise Security" Check out this on-demand webinar to hear Sophos senior security expert John Shier deep dive into how BYOD impacts your enterprise security strategy...
- Live Webcast Endpoint Backup & Restore: Protect Everyone, Everywhere Arek Sokol from the bleeding-edge IT team at Genentech/Roche explains how he leverages cross-platform enterprise endpoint backup in the public cloud as part...
- Streamline Software Asset Management, Compose a software Management Symphony Keeping track of your organization's software is easy with effective software management solutions from CDW. View the videos in our software solutions channel
- Druva inSync: Endpoint Data Protection & Governance CLICK HERE to watch this video about protecting corporate data on laptops and mobile devices, sponsored by Druva. All Security White Papers | Webcasts