Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity: Whom do you trust?

handshake

Edward Snowden and Navy Yard shooter Aaron Alexis changed how a lot of people view contractors and their role in the government. In cybersecurity, where trust is one of the most fundamental pieces in securing and defending networks, many are wondering if the government should rely so heavily on contractors.

But across the board, sources stress the need to refrain from judging an entire segment of the workforce based on the actions of a few. Federal employees would certainly not want to be judged by the actions of notorious spies such as Aldrich Ames or Robert Hanssen.

"It's important to understand that contractors are no more or less threats against classified systems than government employees," said Evan Lesser, managing director of ClearanceJobs.com. "Better surveillance technology needs to be in place to catch people who wish to steal classified data. USB flash-drive ports need to be removed from classified network computers. Additionally, workers caught stealing classified information should be heavily prosecuted to make examples of them to others considering doing the same."

Other sources said more attention should be focused on securing systems against insider threats, including improving the clearance process.

"It may be a question of speeding up the clearance process and being cognizant of 'need to know,'" said Clark DeHaven, senior director of corporate strategy at LGS Innovations. "We need to think about how we set up layers of protections so that if something is compromised, it can be quickly quarantined. If Snowden was a systems administrator, why did he have access to all that information and [those] documents? I expect a lot more conversation about how to implement 'need to know' as a way of quarantining insider threats to systems."

Howard Schmidt, formerly White House cybersecurity coordinator and now executive director of SAFECode and a partner at Ridge-Schmidt Cyber, agreed that it's an insider-threat problem, not a contractor problem.

"It's inappropriate to paint all contractors because of the actions of one or a few," he said. "Instead, focus should be on worrying about the insider threat. There are reasons why we have contractors in addition to civilians and military. You can't brand one segment."

About the Author

Amber Corrin is a former staff writer for FCW and Defense Systems.

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