CIO offers security budget warning

Agencies should not expect any additional funding for security this year,

even though the need to protect their systems is rapidly growing, according

to Fernando Burbano, chief information officer at the State Department.

As the number of Internet users grows and intrusion tools become simpler

but more sophisticated, it is easier for hackers to infiltrate a system,

Burbano said at a conference Wednesday organized by the Digital Government

Institute. Many hacker tools are "point and click" and are freely available

on the Internet, he said.

Burbano said it is possible that the next president will bring "new

money" for security programs; the two leading candidates have shown enthusiasm

on the issue.

There is, however, an underlying problem with the budget process that

makes funding security initiatives difficult, Burbano said. For example,

although the White House issued Presidential Decision Directive 63 in May

1998, it took agencies until late last year to draft their PDD 63 plans,

and funding requests are just now being incorporated into budgets.

PDD 63 requires agencies to develop ways to protect their critical information

systems from cyberattacks.

"A lot of Internet applications critical to agencies haven't come up

until the last year or two," Burbano said. "They require different security

from what [is necessary] on mainframes. [Agencies] are not budgeted for

that."

In order to decide how to allocate resources for security, agencies

should first identify critical assets and perform a risk assessment, Burbano

said. Agencies must develop a list of threats, evaluate which threats impact

them and determine the impact of successful attacks.

In terms of strategy, agencies should first eliminate nuisance threats,

Burbano said, adding that they should also develop a priority list and share

solutions.

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