Outgoing intell chief discusses cybersecurity challenge

Despite some progress, the government’s cybersecurity effort is not as far along as Mike McConnell, the outgoing director of national intelligence, would like.

“We’ve got a good program, we’ve got funding, we’ve got the attention of the Congress, we’ve got the attention of the current administration, we’ve got the attention of the incoming administration,” McConnell told a group of reporters Jan. 16, according to a transcript of the event. “But cybersecurity is the soft underbelly of this country.”

“So my regret would be we introduced this idea about 18, 20 months ago,” he added. “It got some pretty quick traction, and it’s been a very slow…process to work our way through it.”

McConnell added that although he would like to be further down the road, “we’ve got a good vector, and we’re going [in] the right direction.”

President George W. Bush signed a directive in January 2008 that formally launched the Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative. Officials say the classified multiyear, multibillion-dollar effort involves agencies from across the government and the private sector, with the director of national intelligence playing a central coordinating role.

The initiative involves policies related to defense, intelligence, law enforcement and homeland security. One problem has been determining which agencies have authority over different aspects of the initiative, McConnell said.

That is one of the challenges awaiting President-elect Barack Obama’s pick for director of national intelligence, McConnell said.

“How do you write the rules and govern the process and establish the authority to take the exploiters [and] put them in [in] a way that they can be technical support for defense, and how do you take it to the private sector?” he said. “That’s the challenge.”

About the Author

Ben Bain is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

The Fed 100

Save the date for 28th annual Federal 100 Awards Gala.

Featured

  • computer network

    How Einstein changes the way government does business

    The Department of Commerce is revising its confidentiality agreement for statistical data survey respondents to reflect the fact that the Department of Homeland Security could see some of that data if it is captured by the Einstein system.

  • Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. Army photo by Monica King. Jan. 26, 2017.

    Mattis mulls consolidation in IT, cyber

    In a Feb. 17 memo, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told senior leadership to establish teams to look for duplication across the armed services in business operations, including in IT and cybersecurity.

  • Image from Shutterstock.com

    DHS vague on rules for election aid, say states

    State election officials had more questions than answers after a Department of Homeland Security presentation on the designation of election systems as critical U.S. infrastructure.

  • Org Chart Stock Art - Shutterstock

    How the hiring freeze targets millennials

    The government desperately needs younger talent to replace an aging workforce, and experts say that a freeze on hiring doesn't help.

  • Shutterstock image: healthcare digital interface.

    VA moves ahead with homegrown scheduling IT

    The Department of Veterans Affairs will test an internally developed scheduling module at primary care sites nationwide to see if it's ready to service the entire agency.

  • Shutterstock images (honglouwawa & 0beron): Bitcoin image overlay replaced with a dollar sign on a hardware circuit.

    MGT Act poised for a comeback

    After missing in the last Congress, drafters of a bill to encourage cloud adoption are looking for a new plan.

Reader comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group