Critical Read

ACT-IAC survey offers new cybersecurity ideas

Shutterstock image (by deepadesigns): security concept image displaying an illuminated padlock.

What: "Strengthening Federal Cybersecurity: Results of the Cyber Innovation Ideation Initiative," a report from ACT-IAC.

Why: Spurred by the massive data breach at the Office of Personnel Management and subsequent cybersecurity guidance from the Office of Management and Budget and U.S. CIO Tony Scott, ACT-IAC initiated a Community Cybersecurity Innovation Initiative to get a wider perspective and solicit recommendations from industry, government and academia to deepen and enhance federal cybersecurity efforts.

The group's survey asked for new ideas that could be implemented quickly and efficiently in technical, policy, legal, operational, managerial, acquisition, funding, and research and development areas.

Almost 200 ideas were submitted during the two months the survey was conducted late last year.

According to the results, a key factor in stopping cyberattacks is simply being aware of current solutions and practices then implementing them across agencies’ IT operations. Using best practices within an agency, making them part of employee behavior and increasing executive accountability for security would also help.

In addition, appointing a governmentwide "security maven" -- as some companies, including Walmart, have done -- could help tear down barriers between the security, development and business components.

Furthermore, Einstein and the Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation program could use automated, behavior-based approaches to analyzing events rather than relying on human analysis.

Another suggestion was to replace self-assessments with security reviews conducted by a third-party agency using a standard linked to an assessment board of government and industry experts.

Performing real-time security audits based on continuous analysis, rather than periodical reviews, was another suggestion. The continuing analysis would be bolstered by big-data tools and automated analytical processing to fuel real-time threat intelligence.

The report also recommends developing an encryption standard beyond AES-256, which is easily breached. In addition, agencies could be held more accountable for adhering to the National Institute of Standards and Technology's Cybersecurity Framework by implementing metrics to show consistency, backed by an independent accountability board.

Verbatim: "Despite decades of law and policy that require government to improve its security and privacy, many federal agencies still struggle to effectively defend themselves against a torrent of cybersecurity vulnerabilities and threats. The cyber risk ecosystem grows more complex and turbulent every day."

Click here to read the full report.

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, tele.com 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 mrockwell@fcw.com or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


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