DHS seeks cybersecurity capability info

The Homeland Security Department is interested in learning how the private sector can help secure the perimeter of the government’s information technology networks — a key DHS role in the Bush Administration’s largely classified Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative.

DHS asked companies interested in assisting with ongoing efforts to reduce the number access points that agencies use to connect to the Internet and efforts to further monitor and analyze agency networks to submit their qualifications by July 22. The department issued the request for information on July 15.

Specifically, DHS is looking for a contractor with extensive knowledge of the EINSTEIN and Trusted Internet Connection (TIC) Initiatives, two ongoing cybersecurity efforts that DHS officials frequently reference when discussing the administration’s largely classified, multiyear, multiagency, potentially multibillion-dollar effort to boost federal cybersecurity.

The TIC initiative aims to improve security by decreasing the number of federal external connections to the Internet from several thousand to less than 100 governmentwide. Meanwhile, the EINSTEIN program is a collaborative information-sharing program that enhances agencies’ intrusion detection systems by using an automated process for rapidly collecting and analyzing government computer security information with DHS and agency system administrators.

Alan Paller, research director at the SANS Institute, said that the RFI highlighted the analytical skills that DHS is seeking from a staffing perspective. He added that most department employees don’t know how to do complex intrusion detections, log analysis or reverse engineering malware.

The RFI says that interested parties must have knowledge of:


  • EINSTEIN data analysis, tools, techniques and network flow analysis capabilities.

  • The TIC deployment environment.

  • Compliance metrics.


A qualified contractor would also be able to liaise with industry, other federal agencies and academia, as well as help assess the whether designated TIC access points are meeting requirements, the RFI said.

Overall, the administration requested $294 million for cybersecurity for fiscal 2009, compared with the enacted budget of $210 million in fiscal 2008. Funding measures that have cleared the Senate and the House would also boost cybersecurity spending.

About the Author

Ben Bain is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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