Homeland Security unveils new cybersecurity division, seeks chief

The Homeland Security Department on Friday officially unveiled its cybersecurity division to focus on securing the nation's computer networks, but the unit still lacks a chief.

Assistant Homeland Security Secretary for Infrastructure Protection Robert Liscouski called the new division "the feet" to implement the administration's strategy to secure cyberspace and said his goal is to name a director within the next 30 days.

"I want a private-sector person who can be a visionary," Liscouski said at a news briefing. "We will kick off an aggressive search to find a director."

The question of who will oversee cybersecurity within the Bush administration has been an open issue since March 1, when the White House dissolved its Office of Cyberspace Security as part of the process of creating Homeland Security. Several high-ranking cybersecurity officials declined to take jobs in the new department, spurring speculation that the administration was not going to put the new cybersecurity adviser in a senior position.

"I think what you saw was confusion about where the new division was going to be placed in the department," Liscouski said. "If this organization were anywhere else [but here], then it would be dysfunctional. ... This is a peer office ... and the secretary [Tom Ridge] has a laser-beam focus on cyber security." He added that Ridge knows the importance of technology to the business community.

Liscouski outlined the office's goals, which include prevention, protection and mitigation of cyber attacks. He emphasized that cyber security is a key part of physical security, part of the department's overall mission. As part of the effort of prevention and protection, the division will oversee a Cybersecurity Tracking, Analysis and Response Center (CSTARC), which will serve as a central point for detecting, coordinating and responding to cyber attacks.

Liscouski emphasized that the cyber division would not regulate but would "act as a bully pulpit" for creating a culture of cybersecurity.

He noted that department officials are discussing ideas, such as creating cyber-security standards, providing cybersecurity insurance or requiring companies to publicly state their cybersecurity efforts in their financial statements. "But these ideas are in a discussion stage" and nowhere near a policymaking stage, he said.

Liscouski said his division works so closely with Paul Redmond, assistant secretary for information analysis, that the line between the two divisions is "blurry." Redmond is also working with the Terrorist Threat Integration Center (TTIC), which is to be the center point for that nation's intelligence gathering.

TTIC, which is being housed within the CIA, is to have a "cyber capability," Liscouski said, and is to help them his department with mapping cyber vulnerabilities. He said the new cyber-security division at Homeland Security would not have investigative abilities, as that remains the FBI's primary responsibility to follow up on cyber crimes.

The Business Software Alliance, Entrust, Information Technology Association of America and the security firm VeriSign all expressed public support for the new division.

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
  • Federal IT Applications: Assessing Government's Core Drivers

    In order to better understand the current state of external and internal-facing agency workplace applications, Government Business Council (GBC) and Riverbed undertook an in-depth research study of federal employees. Overall, survey findings indicate that federal IT applications still face a gamut of challenges with regard to quality, reliability, and performance management.

    Download
  • PIV- I And Multifactor Authentication: The Best Defense for Federal Government Contractors

    This white paper explores NIST SP 800-171 and why compliance is critical to federal government contractors, especially those that work with the Department of Defense, as well as how leveraging PIV-I credentialing with multifactor authentication can be used as a defense against cyberattacks

    Download
  • Toward A More Innovative Government

    This research study aims to understand how state and local leaders regard their agency’s innovation efforts and what they are doing to overcome the challenges they face in successfully implementing these efforts.

    Download
  • From Volume to Value: UK’s NHS Digital Provides U.S. Healthcare Agencies A Roadmap For Value-Based Payment Models

    The U.S. healthcare industry is rapidly moving away from traditional fee-for-service models and towards value-based purchasing that reimburses physicians for quality of care in place of frequency of care.

    Download
  • GBC Flash Poll: Is Your Agency Safe?

    Federal leaders weigh in on the state of information security

    Download

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