Windows security standardization cited as top tech challenge

Compliance with a recent Office of Management and Budget mandate requiring the application of standard security configurations on computers using Microsoft Windows is the main challenge facing federal information technology security executives, a recent survey concluded.

Managing and testing the standard security configurations against potential vulnerabilities was at the top of the list of difficulties cited by federal chief information security officers and managers at a June 20 panel discussion hosted by Secure Elements, a Herndon, Va.-based security product vendor. Three-fourths of audience members surveyed after the discussion said they consider the OMB mandate their top priority or a very high priority, the vendor said.

In a March 20 order to chief information officers, Karen Evans, OMB's administrator of e-government and IT, said agencies must implement a standard security setting for all computers running the Windows XP and Vista operating systems no later than Feb. 1, 2008. Requirements include restricting access to authorized professionals, testing configurations in a nonproduction environment and patching vulnerabilities.

The government is dominated by computers that run on Windows. OMB officials believe that a standard security configuration will provide a basic level of protection across government, while still saving time and resources.

Half of the 15 federal CISOs and managers who responded to the survey said they believed they have the budget and staff to meet the mandate, while another quarter said they do not have the budget and staffing. A final 25 percent were not sure.

Fifty percent said their existing tools and technologies are insufficient to achieve the requirements. Another 25 percent said they have adequate tools and technologies, and the remaining quarter said they were not sure.

The survey found that none of the CISOs and managers will start moving their systems to Vista within the next six months. Half said they plan to start the transition in the next six to 12 months, while the other half was unsure about the timing.

OMB's mandate does not require agencies to move to Vista, and some agencies are reluctant to make the switch in the near future. For instance, in March Daniel Mitz, the Transportation Department's chief information officer, and David Litman, the department's senior procurement executive, issued an "indefinite moratorium" on upgrading to Vista, citing concerns about both cost and technical issues.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

    Download
  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

    Download
  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

    Download
  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.