Oversight

Pentagon IG to audit cyber readiness

Shutterstock image (by Everett Historical): aerial of the Pentagon.

The Defense Department’s inspector general will begin an audit this month to determine whether defense agencies have rectified known cybersecurity weaknesses.

The audit will gauge how well agencies have corrected vulnerabilities identified by Command Cyber Readiness Inspections, wrote Carol Gorman, DOD's assistant IG for readiness and cyber operations, in a Feb. 2 letter to defense officials.

CCRIs are the means by which the Pentagon holds commanders accountable for their network security. The first iteration involved reviewing results of vulnerability scans and measuring compliance with U.S. Cyber Command's Computer Network Defense Directives, according to a Defense Information Systems Agency website.

The second phase of the CCRIs, carried out in May 2011, began moving the methodology "from strictly a compliance-based inspection toward an operational readiness inspection," the DISA explainer reads.

The IG's audit will judge how agencies are using CCRI results to identify systemic deficiencies in cybersecurity, Gorman wrote. It will include visits to Cyber Command and DISA, and could expand to other locations. The review will consider other objectives based on suggestions from DOD officials.

Audits are often completed within 12 to 18 months or less, said DOD IG spokeswoman Bridget Serchak.

DOD officials such as CIO Terry Halvorsen are cracking down on sloppy IT security habits, saying they will kick irresponsible users off networks. A scorecard that grades various agencies on their IT security practices is being produced on a monthly basis for Defense Secretary Ash Carter's review.

"Right now, if you discharge a weapon, you are held accountable for that.... What we need to do is inculcate a culture where a 'cyber discharge' is considered just as bad," Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work told a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee in September 2015.

The IG's audit will be a chance to see whether action has matched rhetoric on cybersecurity at the Pentagon.

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.


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