Mission impossible

The news that government computer systems are vulnerable to hacker attacks is hardly news: More than two years ago, FCW reported on a series of break-ins to DOD systems. However, in the intervening years there has been a growing awareness of how serious the problem could become. Now a Hill subcommittee has proposed a national SWAT center to perform this mission impossible.

The idea is not bad, but many longtime government watchers wonder if, given the current culture, the idea has much chance of success.

One key to addressing the issue is getting an accurate idea of the size of the problem, so an important part of what the center is supposed to do is to gather incident data - no small feat because many agencies refuse to disclose any information. As one observer pointed out, the intelligence agencies won't share information - even with each other - and they certainly don't trust folks in the uncloaked agencies.

But unless there is a dramatic change in law or attitude, the center will be nothing more than window dressing. It will count incidents when they make the papers or when a civilian bureaucrat gets around to the paperwork. The real interdiction of hackers will not be possible unless the center has some muscle behind it. A law helps, but high-level political backing is essential.

Featured

  • Cybersecurity

    DHS floats 'collective defense' model for cybersecurity

    Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen wants her department to have a more direct role in defending the private sector and critical infrastructure entities from cyberthreats.

  • Defense
    Defense Secretary James Mattis testifies at an April 12 hearing of the House Armed Services Committee.

    Mattis: Cloud deal not tailored for Amazon

    On Capitol Hill, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis sought to quell "rumors" that the Pentagon's planned single-award cloud acquisition was designed with Amazon Web Services in mind.

  • Census
    shutterstock image

    2020 Census to include citizenship question

    The Department of Commerce is breaking with recent practice and restoring a question about respondent citizenship last used in 1950, despite being urged not to by former Census directors and outside experts.

Stay Connected

FCW Update

Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.