Info security speeding up

Information security programs and systems at agencies across government are going forward, in some cases faster than before, in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

This rush comes as administrators at civilian agencies ranging from the Federal Aviation Administration to the Education Department's Office of Student Financial Assistance Programs are paying full attention to the risk of not securing every portion of their services against any type of attack, agency officials said Sept. 17. They made their comments at the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association's Bethesda Chapter breakfast on information security.

At the FAA, especially, programs that would have taken two to three years to implement, will take considerably less time now, said Michael Brown, director of the agency's Office of Information Systems Security.

"I fully feel that the process will be greatly accelerated," he said.

For example, since last week, the FAA's computer emergency response team went from a part-time operation that would not be around-the-clock for another nine months to one that is fully operational now, he said.

The Justice Department had plans to address security weaknesses highlighted in the department's report under the Government Information Security Reform Act. But following the attacks, Justice is already tightening its network access and authentication, moving from policy to implementation, said Kevin Deeley, acting deputy director for Justice's information management and security staff.

During the past few years, the level of security awareness in the federal government has improved, said Laura Callahan, deputy chief information officer at the Labor Department and co-chair of the CIO Council's Security, Privacy and Critical Infrastructure Committee.

But the proof of true understanding of security threats will be demonstrated as agencies receive the resources to follow through on programs, she said.

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