Cybersecurity

How DHS is helping implement the cyber framework

Infrastructure

The Department of Homeland Security is expanding its role in helping the private sector protect networks and infrastructure from cyber attack. Under the program, DHS will provide assistance in implementing the Cybersecurity Framework, released on Feb. 12 by the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

The program, called the Critical Infrastructure Cyber Community or C3 (pronounced C-cubed), launched alongside the NIST framework. It's designed to connect critical infrastructure operators around the goals of readiness, risk management and response to cyber attack. The program is also open to state and local governments, which have networks with potentially vulnerable information and may operate infrastructure such as water supplies. Jenny Menna, the director of DHS' Stakeholder Engagement and Cyber Infrastructure Resilience Division, said the department was offering assistance to entities that are seeking help on a voluntary basis.

As a participant in the process leading up to the release of the NIST framework, DHS "recognized that critical infrastructure is not a homogonous mass," and that different kinds of providers might have different needs Menna said at a Feb. 20 panel held by law firm Crowell and Moring. Some companies, like small- and medium-sized businesses with important roles in the industrial and technological supply chain, might not even recognize themselves as part of the nation's critical infrastructure.

The C3 program is initially designed to engage stakeholders across 12 sectors, but it will expand to include private businesses of all kinds. Menna said that DHS would roll out new aspects of the plan in the coming weeks. These could include incentives for private business that adopt the framework, although there are some hurdles here including how use of the NIST guidelines would be certified and monitored.

DHS is also continuing a program it took over from the Defense Department, in which companies can receive classified threat information from the government. The voluntary program was slow to get traction, because of the delays of getting the appropriate security clearances for participants, but Menna said they had reduced the wait time in a recent exercise involving U.S and Canadian railroads.

Private companies may be averse to participating in voluntary DHS programs for reasons other than bureaucratic lag, said Mark Weatherford, a principal at the Chertoff Group and a participant in the panel. The "Snowden effect" is making companies a "little more standoffish today than they were nine months ago," he said.

As a result, Weatherford is seeing a growing trend in cybersecurity intelligence startups, that rivals what government develops. The private intell may have more value, because it's customized around the demands of particular industry sectors, he said.

About the Author

Adam Mazmanian is executive editor of FCW.

Before joining the editing team, Mazmanian was an FCW staff writer covering Congress, government-wide technology policy, health IT and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to joining FCW, Mr. Mazmanian was technology correspondent for National Journal and served in a variety of editorial at B2B news service SmartBrief. Mazmanian started his career as an arts reporter and critic, and has contributed reviews and articles to the Washington Post, the Washington City Paper, Newsday, Architect magazine, and other publications. He was an editorial assistant and staff writer at the now-defunct New York Press and arts editor at the About.com online network in the 1990s, and was a weekly contributor of music and film reviews to the Washington Times from 2007 to 2014.

Click here for previous articles by Mazmanian. Connect with him on Twitter at @thisismaz.


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

Tue, Apr 22, 2014 Gary Morgan Ft Worth Texas

DHS should frame C3 as best practices for the civilian sector; NIST 800, if implemented properly is absolutely the best.

Best practices are voluntary but sets a standard that can be measured across industries and platforms. I believe this would be politically more, palatable to this sector of our society.

I also think metrics for the civilian sector should reflect the areas where the most vulnerabilities, and risks occur consequently they can use this as selling points if they do a good job.

I think this is the the only way to sell it as a gov/civilian partnership and make it work.
I think a lot can be done with the proper selling, telling and implementation.

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