Government Shutdown

Shutdown would not endanger cloud environments

cloud security

A government shutdown won't weaken the security of the data inside the government's various cloud environments, be they private, public or a combination of the two, according to those responsible for cybersecurity and federal IT.

"It'll be business as usual," said Barry West, CIO of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation. West spoke Sept. 26 at a conference on big data held in Washington, D.C.

Federal agencies have been given guidelines to decide whom to furlough and what programs to delay if a shutdown occurs, and it appears feds have decided that cybersecurity experts and the IT personnel who defend the country's cloud computing infrastructures and data stores will not be furloughed. IT gurus and network wizards are also unlikely to be told to stay home.

Private clouds – those located on-premises – play vital roles in some federal agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Agriculture and the intelligence community. If a significant number of federal employees in cybersecurity roles were off the job, attackers might have windows of opportunity to wreak havoc in the event of a shutdown.

By law, agencies cannot furlough employees who provide for national security, provide benefit payments and performance of obligations or conduct activities that protect life and property.

 "I don't see any potential issues," said Agriculture Department Deputy CIO Charles McClam. "They are exempted personnel, so they'll be there."

Agencies that make use of vendor-hosted public clouds should expect no security or reliability issues either, according to Naeem Musa, chief information security officer for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Musa said third-party vendors provide security, services and support to their data centers, so a government shutdown would not affect any processes.

FCW contacted several large federal cloud vendors and none reported any cybersecurity concerns regarding the potential shutdown.

About the Author

Frank Konkel is a former staff writer for FCW.

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

Fri, Sep 27, 2013 OccupyIT

Anyone else notice the irony of "IG sees minimal progress for US-VISIT" from 2005 being considered a "Related Story?"

Fri, Sep 27, 2013 OccupyIT

What the h*ll does the implementation technology have to do with something being essential or not? Geez! Cloud is a magic word for unaccountability and sugary goodness, huh? System Security of all running IT systems is essential, even if it running on a 386 powered by homemade potato batteries. Unless, of course, the system itself is not essential in which case please raise your hand and let OFPP know so they can help you transition to retirement. Guess we made our Cloud coverage quota for the day.

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