Scott tells agency CIOs to speed up security measures

Tony Scott  (Photo: VMware)

Federal CIO Tony Scott told agency CIOs to "dramatically accelerate implementation of multi-factor authentication," among other measures.

In the wake of the enormous breach of federal employee data, federal CIO Tony Scott told top federal agency IT officers to implement or bolster key security protections in the next 30 days to "mitigate our risks."

A June 11 memo from Scott, obtained by FCW, doesn't specifically mention the breach of the Office of Personnel Management data that exposed millions of past and present federal employees' data, but it carries a sense of urgency.

It tells agency CIOs and deputy CIOs to accelerate a number of cybersecurity measures in the next 30 days, with the Office of Management and Budget following up on their work through the President's Management Council, which advises the president and OMB on reform initiatives and oversees implementation of government-wide management policies and programs.

Scott told CIOs and deputy CIOs to ensure their Security Operations Centers have scanned networks for “indicators of compromise” listed in the Department of Homeland Security's -Computer Emergency Readiness Team's (CERT) Analysis Report posted on US-CERT's secure portal, and to inform DHS immediately if the scans turn up any evidence of malicious cyber activity.

The memo also instructed agencies to patch critical vulnerabilities, take immediate action on DHS's weekly Vulnerability Scan Reports, as well as tighten policy and practices for privileged users, minimizing their number and limiting functions under privileged accounts, limiting the time they can be logged in and limiting the privileged functions that can be performed using remote access.

The memo also tells agencies to "dramatically accelerate implementation of multi-factor authentication, with a priority on implementing for privileged users." That measure could entail implementing strong two-part smartcard-based authentication technology, which isn't yet widely deployed by most federal agencies.

Scott also tells CIOs to identify high value data, systems, equipment, infrastructure and applications, and to make a risk-based assessment of current cybersecurity and physical security protections for those items.

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


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