DHS' Beckström: Feds need to define cyber goals

The federal government would be more successful in its cybersecurity efforts if it fully defined its goals, a Homeland Security Department official said today.

"The end state is not adequately discussed,” said Rod Beckström, director of DHS’ National Cybersecurity Center, at AFCEA International’s Homeland Security Conference.

With millions of cyber attacks occurring daily, it is unrealistic to hope for an end to all attacks, he said, adding that it would be better if the federal government set specific goals.

“Do we want a stable Internet for commerce, for communication, for intelligence, for information-sharing or for the warfighter to have an electronic advantage in war?” Beckström asked. “We need clearer directives.”

In addition to a more defined vision for cyber protections, the Obama administration needs to cooperate and collaborate with other countries and the private sector, and it shows signs of doing so, Beckström said. “We have a very collaboration-oriented president. That is strategically significant.”

Reducing hacking and fraud on the Internet will depend on offering rewards and punishments, such as paying a reward to anyone who discovers malicious code and penalizing companies who produce poor-quality code, he said.

He added that improving Internet and network security will require broad cooperation across many organizations. “The Internet is not a command-and-control environment.”

“Someone asked if I was the cyber czar, and I almost laughed,” Beckström said. “There is no such thing. It is not me. I am not Russian, and I am not a czar.”

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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