OMB sets guidelines for telework security

Federal agencies will have more guidelines to follow when it comes to teleworking.

The Office of Management and Budget issued a memorandum Friday outlining requirements for keeping information secure as more employees work remotely under the 2010 Telework Enhancement Act, signed by President Obama in December.

While the memo highlighted the benefits of teleworking, citing increases in productivity and reduced overhead costs, it also emphasized the need for safeguards.

"Telework is only as effective as the technologies used to support it, which is why it is critical for agencies to take immediate action to ensure that their employees are properly equipped," Jacob "Jack" Lew, director of OMB, said in the memo. "If not properly implemented, telework may introduce new information security vulnerabilities into agency systems and networks."

The memo reminded agencies to continue to follow policies and rules set by OMB, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the Homeland Security Department. Agencies also must comply with the 2002 Federal Information Security Management Act as a minimum requirement to protect information and prevent security breaches.

The guidelines said agencies could settle on other precautions based on their needs, but measures must address safeguarding wireless networks, limiting the introduction of vulnerabilities, controlling access to information, protecting both agency and third-party systems used in teleworking, and preventing inappropriate use of office time and resources.

To ensure that these guidelines are followed, federal chief information officers must provide DHS with a point of contact to aid with technical implementation matters. Annually, each agency will collaborate with OPM to turn in a report on the state of its telework operations.

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