OMB mulls budget to fight cyberterror

The Clinton administration is considering including in its next budget funds for a governmentwide system that would detect intrusions into key agency networks and some federal World Wide Web sites and then send reports of possible threats to the FBI.

The Office of Management and Budget received the request for the funds in a memo authored in response to President Clinton's decision directive on critical infrastructure protection. In the May directive, Clinton ordered 22 of the largest federal agencies to identify computer systems that are critical to their operations and develop plans to protect those systems from cyber- and physical attacks.

The intrusion-detection system described in the memo is one of 10 tasks Clinton asked various agencies to price and to include in their fiscal 2000 budget requests submitted to OMB by Nov. 15, the final deadline for submitting add-ons (see box, Page 49).

Thomas Burke, assistant commissioner for the Office of Information Security at the General Services Administration's Federal Technology Service, said the FBI and the National Security Agency have been put in charge of the directive's instructions regarding intrusion detection and are the most likely authors of the memo.

Burke, who also is the newly appointed critical infrastructure assurance officer for GSA, is working on crafting a funding proposal that would bring federal systems that have come under attack back up to a minimal operating capability.

"The FBI, through the [National Infrastructure Protection Center (NIPC)] and the NSA, are probably working on something that would say, 'We need X number of dollars for FY 2000 for intrusion detection,' " Burke said.

According to the memo, intrusion-detection software would be installed on the critical systems at network nodes to monitor suspicious activity around the clock, according to a source familiar with the memo.

In addition, the memo states that publicly accessible Web sites used for electronic commerce would be monitored as part of the system, the source said. The memo does not specify the amount of money needed to finance the detection system, the source said.

Barry Collin, a senior researcher with the Institute for Security and Intelligence, described the intrusion-detection system as "one of the best ideas that could come down the pike" because there is currently no way for the federal government to detect a coordinated attack on multiple agency systems.

However, he warned that the effort to launch such a system would be an extremely expensive undertaking requiring levels of interagency cooperation that do not exist already.

"A lot of agencies already have their own SWAT teams, their own systems in place" to detect and react to system intrusions, Collin said. "For them to offload that is going to be a challenge."

Jeffrey Hunker, director of the Critical Infrastructure Assurance Office, which Clinton designated to lead the national effort to ward off cyberthreats to the national infrastructure, said in an interview last month that the National Security Council and OMB soon will begin a review of all agency budgets to examine potential resources that may be needed to comply with critical infrastructure protection requirements.

CIAO officials could not be reached for comment.

The FBI, which would receive and process the intrusion-detection reports of critical federal systems, has taken the lead operational role for protecting the nation's critical infrastructures from cyberattacks and for coordinating responses to such threats.

An FBI spokeswoman said agency officials could not comment by press time.

In the recently approved omnibus budget bull, the NIPC received $4.3 million for an early-warning system that will be designed to provide a warning of a physical or cyberattack on a portion of the national infrastructure.

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AT A GLANCE

10 tasks required by Presidential Decision Directive 63

1. Conduct vulnerability analyses.2. Recommend remedial plan.3. Install enhanced system for detecting and analyzing attacks.4. Establish system for responding to ongoing attacks.5. Establish system for reconstituting capabilities after attack.6. Carry out education programs.7. Coordinate research to support infrastructure protection.8. Develop plan to improve intelligence gathering.9. Expand international cooperation.10. Evaluate president's legislative authorities and budget priorities.

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