DHS Cyber Official: There is No Silver Bullet to Cybersecurity

DHS Cyber Official: There is No Silver Bullet to Cybersecurity - top government contractors - best government contracting event

DHS Cyber Official: There is No Silver Bullet to Cybersecurity - top government contractors - best government contracting eventThe U.S. cybersecurity effort does not need the creation of a new agency or department, a senior DHS official told members of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee during a hearing Tuesday, June 15.

In reference to a cyber bill proposed by Sens. Joe Lieberman, Susan Collins and Tom Carper, Phil Reitinger, deputy under secretary of the National Protection and Programs Directorate at DHS, told the senators that the Department of Homeland Security was equipped to lead the coordination of the nation’s cybersecurity in the civilian sectors.

“This cybersecurity endeavor is not just about DHS,” he said. “The mission is for the entire homeland security enterprise, which includes many agencies.”

DHS is currently working with federal agencies along with the private sector and state governments. In the past year, DHS has focused on dealing with the growing threat in cyberspace, according to Reitinger.

“The United States confronts a dangerous combination of known and unknown vulnerabilities, strong and rapidly expanding adversary capabilities and a limited comprehensive threat and vulnerability awareness,” he said. “We face persistent and unauthorized intrusions to federal executive branch civilian networks that often are difficult to attribute.”

Reitinger also pointed to the stealing of intellectual property from U.S. government and private systems, along with the growing threat from terrorism.

“Sensitive information is routinely stolen from both government and private sector networks,” he said. “Terrorist groups and their sympathizers have expressed interest in using cyberspace to target and harm the United States and its citizens.”

A principle concern about the terrorist threat is also the growing availability of cyber tools on the Internet, according to Reitinger.

“While some have commented on terrorists’ own technical abilities, of equal concern is the wide availability of advanced technical tools for purchase or for free off the Internet,” he said.

The United States is the most networked nation in the world and perhaps the most reliant on networks. DHS is working to increase cooperation and awareness about the threat in an effort to enhance domestic cybersecurity.

“Teamwork … is essential to securing cyberspace,” Reitinger said. “The cybersecurity mission cannot be accomplished by any one agency or even solely within the federal realm; it requires teamwork and coordination across all sectors because it touches every aspect of our lives.”

In order to defend U.S. networks, DHS is advocating a defense-in-depth approach. With defense-in-depth, systems and security is essentially layered to provide maximum protection, rather than relying on one piece or technology such as a firewall.

“The Department’s strategy, which supports a defense-in-depth, requires situational awareness of the state of federal networks, and early warning capability, near real-time and automatic identification of malicious activity and the ability to disable intrusions before harm is done,” Reitinger said.

He also provided a response to the proposed Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act of 2010. While Reitinger praised the Committee its focus on cybersecurity, he said certain portions of the bill were unnecessary.

“We believe that it is preferable to maintain a singular organizational integration between physical and cybersecurity operations, rather than create a separate cyber organization,” he said. “We continue to believe that the nexus point between critical (physical) infrastructure that have cybersecurity vulnerabilities … can best be made resilient through a single organizational entity that works to prevent, mitigate and recover from all-hazards attacks where the lines of cyber and physical security are erased.”

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