Cybersecurity

Senior DHS official weighs in on cyber legislation

Shutterstock image: secure data stream.

The Department of Homeland Security’s Larry Zelvin is the latest administration official to call for legislation to strengthen DHS's hand in detecting and thwarting cyber threats.

Congress should enact a law to clarify the department’s statutory authority on cybersecurity issues, said Zelvin, who heads the National Cyber and Communications Integration Center. National Security Agency Director Adm. Michael Rogers has said repeatedly that information-sharing legislation is a much-needed arrow in the government’s cybersecurity quiver.

While the FBI and intelligence agencies have clear legal mandates, "we're reliant upon the Homeland Security Act of 2002, legislation that was designed to meet a terrorist threat – airplanes crashing into buildings. And we’re adapting that for" cybersecurity, Zelvin said June 25 at an AFCEA conference in Baltimore.

Zelvin cited Heartbleed, the Open SSL vulnerability made public in April, as a threat with which enhanced DHS authority could have helped. The department led the government’s response to the bug, scanning various agencies' networks for intrusions, but Zelvin said asking each agency's permission to do so was cumbersome. "There was nobody in a holistic way looking at" the federal government’s vulnerability to Heartbleed, he added.

Zelvin also said he strongly supports legislation put forth in the Senate that would house a "portal" at DHS for public-private information sharing.

"As far as DHS's role in information sharing, I think we can provide a service to other government partners. I would love to free up … the FBI to do more law enforcement and domestic intelligence," he said in response to a question from FCW.

California Democrat Dianne Feinstein and Georgia Republican Saxby Chambliss, the chairwoman and ranking member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, have drafted a bill that would set up such a DHS portal, where private firms could confidentially share threat information without legal liability.

About the Author

Sean Lyngaas is an FCW staff writer covering defense, cybersecurity and intelligence issues. Prior to joining FCW, he was a reporter and editor at Smart Grid Today, where he covered everything from cyber vulnerabilities in the U.S. electric grid to the national energy policies of Britain and Mexico. His reporting on a range of global issues has appeared in publications such as The Atlantic, The Economist, The Washington Diplomat and The Washington Post.

Lyngaas is an active member of the National Press Club, where he served as chairman of the Young Members Committee. He earned his M.A. in international affairs from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, and his B.A. in public policy from Duke University.

Click here for previous articles by Lyngaas, or connect with him on Twitter: @snlyngaas.


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