OMB preps cyber sprint follow-up

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Agencies rushed to implement two-factor authentication this summer during a "cyber sprint" mandated by U.S. CIO Tony Scott. A follow-up plan will soon be released and will include more than just the access push featured in the original effort, according to a top Office of Management and Budget security analyst.

Chris DeRusha, a senior analyst in OMB's Cyber and National Security Unit, said the Cyber Security Implementation Plan will be a broad, comprehensive strategy for implementing additional security measures.

It will contain more threat indicators -- the code signatures left behind by cyber intruders -- than were uncovered during the initial sprint, DeRusha said at a meeting of the Information Security and Privacy Advisory Board at the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

"CSIP will contain more guidance, but the sprint focused on the ones we knew we needed to know about," he said. The new plan "will close a lot of policy and security gaps" that pose longer-term threats. "Post-sprint, CSIP will focus on gaps that will take more time to close."

In September, Scott told FCW that OMB lawyers were reviewing a second phase of the sprint, which might feature the furtherance of key cybersecurity programs such as Einstein 3A and Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation.

The initial 30-day cyber sprint, which was conducted this past summer, examined the security of federal civilian and military IT networks after the breach of Office of Personnel Management systems.

In the course of the sprint, 14 major civilian agencies surpassed Scott's goal of 75 percent authentication, while several agencies hit 100 percent for privileged users. At the sprint's conclusion, Scott said he was looking for ways to keep cybersecurity momentum going at federal agencies and asked 100 experts from government and industry to help. Their efforts resulted in the CSIP.

Scott said the plan will offer a longer view of how to protect civilian agencies from cyberattack, but it will also demand action. "It's more of an implementation plan than a strategic overview, he said. "It's an action plan" to be implemented immediately and into the next year.

Another important piece of the post-cyber sprint environment is the revision of OMB's Circular A-130, DeRusha said. The circular is essentially federal IT managers' go-to rulebook for computer and information security, he added.

The agency released a revised A-130 on Oct. 21 for the first since 2000 and plans to provide even more guidance on how to address a number of issues tied to the cyber sprint's results, he said.

The revised A-130 centralizes policy updates on acquisition, cybersecurity, information governance, records management, open data and privacy -- either administratively or in recent legislation. It also incorporates new CIO authorities under the Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act.

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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