News in Brief

DHS departures, a potential conflict of interest and more

High-level departures hamper DHS on cyber, counterterrorism

A steady stream of high-level departures and an unclear legal mandate are hampering the Department of Homeland Security's ability to carry out its counterterrorism and cybersecurity missions, reports the Washington Post.

"Between 2010 and 2013, the number of annual departures of permanent employees from DHS increased 31 percent, compared with a 17 percent increase for the government overall," the article states, citing a database maintained by the Office of Personnel Management.

Part of the problem is that the rate of pay for private-sector cybersecurity jobs is often many times what DHS jobs pay. Congress is trying to help reduce that disparity through legislation that would give DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson greater authority for hiring and paying cybersecurity experts.

Northrop Grumman puts former DHS adviser in charge of privacy

Defense giant Northrop Grumman hired John Kropf, a former senior adviser at the Department of Homeland Security, as a "privacy executive" in charge of the firm's global privacy and data protection policies.

Kropf will advise the company on the collection and use of personal information, according to a Northrop Grumman announcement released Sept. 22. He was deputy chief privacy officer at DHS before leaving the department in January 2012.

GAO knocks CFPB privacy, data security

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau needs to commit its data security and privacy controls to paper, says a newly released Government Accountability Office report.

CFPB has some security protocols in place, but much of its strategy is not written down or documented, which could result in inconsistencies in the application and execution of security measures, according to the report.

GAO recommended that CFPB establish or enhance written procedures for gathering data, anonymizing data, assessing and managing privacy risks, monitoring and auditing privacy controls, and consistently and comprehensively documenting the results of information security risk assessments.

GAO's report also advises the bureau to conduct periodic reviews of its privacy practices, hold privacy training for employees who handle sensitive personal information, and update its action plans to reflect weaknesses and needs.

Report: NSA SIGINT director's husband a possible NSA contractor

The husband of the director of the National Security Agency's Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) Directorate works for a contractor that is likely seeking or already doing business with NSA, according to a BuzzFeed report on a potential conflict of interest between the two organizations.

Teresa Shea is director of the powerful SIGINT Directorate, and her husband, James, is vice president of DRS Signal Solutions, a major player in the SIGINT field that might be working for NSA, according to the report, which added that "unlike most other federal agencies, the NSA isn't required to disclose its contracts."

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