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FCW : August 30, 2015
Trending of federal employees are satisfied with their opportunities for advancement 31% In the wake of the unprecedented breaches of Office of Personnel Man- agement systems, the Obama adminis- tration has turned to industry for ideas for shoring up federal cybersecurity. The Information Technology Industry Council’s IT Alliance for Public Sec- tor offered a slew of ideas, including establishing a permanent position that directs cybersecurity activi- ties across the government. ITAPS sent its recommen- dations to Acting OPM Direc- tor Beth Cobert, U.S. CIO Tony Scott and White House Cybersecurity Coordinator Michael Daniel on July 30. The advice came from experts at 20 tech firms, including IBM, Microsoft and Oracle. ITAPS recommends separating the functions of agency chief information security officers from CIOs, enabling CISOs to send their security concerns directly to agency heads and mak- ing IT security part of performance reviews for government employees and contractors. Furthermore, ITAPS said that like the Department of Homeland Security, agencies should use pay incentives to recruit and retain talented cybersecu- rity professionals. The recommendations also recog- nize that the clock is running out on the Obama administration, which has prioritized cybersecurity while responding to a series of large hacks of federal agen- cies. “In the remaining time for this administration...the government must move bold- ly with speed, transparency in action, unity of effort and clarity in purpose,” ITAPS advised. Trey Hodgkins, ITAPS’ senior vice president for public sector, said in a statement that cybersecurity “can no longer be viewed as an isolat- ed issue. It should be a top priority governmentwide.” — Sean Lyngaas ITAPS recommends vast changes to federal cybersecurity Trey Hodgkins 6 August 30, 2015 FCW.COM the changes were not material, and they were the result of normal staff turnover.” Instead, Justice merely prioritized privileged-user two-factor authentica- tion. “We have made tremendous prog- ress with our general-user community in enforcing two-factor authentication,” the official said. “We expect to improve significantly by the fall of 2015.” Some experts argued that fixating on the numbers was simplistic. “Generally speaking, there’s too much focus on these numbers and percentages, which can be misleading,” said Monzy Merza, chief security evangelist at software firm Splunk. “These problems are a little more complex than [they] might appear.” Merza said every agency is different, and some already had strong security initiatives they could build on for the sprint. Furthermore, two-factor authen- tication is not a panacea. The emphasis on beefing up security for privileged users is good, he said, but other considerations, including improv- ing remote-access security, should also take precedence. Merza noted that the sprint likely revealed deeper issues that agencies can begin to improve. For example, using smartphone apps as a form of authentication is extremely useful but challenging. “What if your employees don’t have smartphones?” Merza asked. “Or what if you work for an agency that doesn’t allow smartphones for security reasons?” However, Merza said, even the lack- luster results at Education, Justice and Energy could be the start of real secu- rity improvements. It all depends on what those agencies do next. — Zach Noble Cyber sprint laggards Continued from Page 3 INK TANK 0830fcw_003-011.indd 6 8/12/15 9:10 AM
August 15, 2015
September 15, 2015