NASA divides security duties

NASA has created an office to oversee security, but the new Office of Security

Management and Safeguards will assume responsibility for only a portion

of the space agency's computer operations.

Security for most of NASA's computers will remain with the agency's

chief information officer in order to ensure that systems remain programmed

for optimal mission performance.

Computer security is so closely connected with the carrying out of information

technology missions that the agency felt it could not be separated, said

a NASA source, speaking on background.

"At NASA, computers are used to accomplish missions. Security is an

aspect...like bandwidth or suitable software," he said. Pulling out one

aspect of the operation and giving its responsibility to another entity

could compromise the mission, he said.

Overcompensating for security, for example, could make it more difficult

for IT systems to work, while undercompensating could compromise security.

Therefore, officials determined that NASA's CIO should retain responsibility

for the security of the agency's computer systems and networks. One exception

is a classified computing system, which will be the responsibility of the

new security office.

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