Homeland Security has no plans to update cybersecurity strategy

The time for reviewing the federal cybersecurity strategy has not come yet despite flaws that need to be addressed, a top official said Thursday.

"There is no effort to update" the strategy issued by the White House early in 2003, said Amit Yoran, director of the Homeland Security Department cyber-security division. The strategy was identified as a "snapshot in time," he said.

Yoran said after a speech at a SecureE-Biz.net conference that new issues have arisen since the strategy was released, such as a focus on securing "control systems" for infrastructure like chemical manufacturing or power systems. In addition, he acknowledged that problems exist in areas such as information-sharing analysis centers for various sectors and full industry support for federal efforts.

Another area of concern is the performance of the national cyber-alert system, which Yoran said is "mixed." For instance, he said some people think the technical alerts issued under the system are too technical.

The government is trying to find the right amount of alerts to send. "We're trying to walk the balance between not crying wolf and focusing people's attention on key issues," he said. At the same time, the government continues to offer information for experts about computer worms, viruses and other issues that occur.

"It is not the government's intention to be the first one out there to say, 'Hey, something is going on,'" he said. "The private sector has a finely tuned machine" for that purpose, and the government works collaboratively with it.

Generally, the federal government has approached cybersecurity in a two-pronged effort, Yoran said. Experts are working to improve preparedness for problems, meaning better identification of attacks and dissemination of information and security patches.

He said the other approach is strategic, as opposed to tactical, and involves trying to break the "vicious cycle" of the traditional "cat and mouse" game of trying to catch attackers. "We have to make a focused and strategic effort if this cycle is ever to end," he said.

The private sector is key to that success, Yoran said, and the agency is working to encourage improved software development with more secure code, and to improve evaluation methods for finding bugs and malicious code sent by developers, whether they are foreign or domestic.

He said Homeland Security will continue to invest in that, as well as ways to counter cyber crime, test data sets and improve methods for the economic analysis of cyber attacks. "We're looking at technology as the soft underbelly of all the nation's critical infrastructure," Yoran said.

Homeland Security works within an interagency group that includes all agencies with significant cybersecurity authority, including the Defense and State departments, the National Security Agency, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

Despite problems, the department will continue to rely on market forces to drive improvement in cyber security, Yoran said. "We're early in these market influences to say we're ready to cut bait in terms of our policies."

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

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

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.


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