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FCW : November 30, 2012
The heat is on lawmakers to take action on cybersecurity, and federal of cials warn that keeping cyber poli- cy on ice amid political wrangling will continue to be a costly gamble. Although the United States does, according to top government of cials, have the means to defend its inter- ests in cyberspace, there s a dearth of cutting-edge policies, tools and talent. As a result, widespread theft of intellectual property and other cyber crimes are all too common, and it could be only a matter of time before disrup- tive activity evolves into destruction. "I m concerned that attacks like that are coming, and we re spending a lot of time talking about what we should do when we should just do it," said Gen. Keith Alexander, commander of the U.S. Cyber Com- mand and director of the National Security Agency, Nov. 7 at the Syman- tec Government Symposium in Wash- ington. "From my perspective, we can defend this space. We can secure it better than it is today, and we re stuck at the starting line. We ought to get on with it. I believe that s the push you re going to see from the administration and Congress, and it should be the push from the American people." Although it remains to be seen whether that push will indeed come from the White House and Congress, Alexander is not the only government of cial to note the danger resulting from a lack of a de nitive cyberse- curity policy. "That s the challenge of cyberspace: The enemy can take shots all day long, but legally, there are limits to what we can do," said Brian Varine, director of incident management at the Energy Department s Joint Cybersecurity Coordination Center. "We know we re Trending 8 November 30, 2012 FCW.COM bringing a knife to the gun ght." According to other of cials, the laws that do exist --- including the Federal Information Security Man- agement Act --- do not adequately address today s threats. "One of the things about the [cur- rent] laws is that you have to be an attorney to interpret them," said Ken- neth Brodie, chief infor- mation security of cer at the Air Force s Of ce of Information Dominance and CIO. "But cyber laws need to be more risk-focused and less compliance-focused." A risk management strategy is central to cybersecurity in govern- ment networks, and vulnerabilities must be prioritized. "We are not going to be able to secure every system and every com- pany," said Jenny Menna, director of the Stakeholder Engagement and Cyber Infrastructure Resilience Divi- sion at the Department of Homeland Is federal cybersecurity all talk? INK TANK Security and former acting director of the U.S. Computer Emergency Readi- ness Team at DHS. "Those need to be risk-based decisions. How critical is the system? How critical is the data? What would happen if the network was compromised or destroyed? That s a decision we need to make as a federal government for our own networks, and they are also decisions companies need to make in the same way they make other risk-based deci- sions. Where the government needs to come into play there is providing the threat information...so they can make informed risk management decisions as quickly as possible." According to Alexander, those deci- sions need to happen sooner rather than later. "What we have is a huge concern: theft by crime, theft of intellectual property and now disruption, destruc- tion coming on these networks. And we ve got to address that," Alexander said. "Everybody is getting hit. Every- body is being exploited. From my per- spective, this is huge." without critical weather data due to problems with the Joint Polar Satellite System, GAO predicts 17 months Gen. Keith Alexander
November 15, 2012