White House tweaks incident reporting in FISMA memo

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The rules have changed for agencies reporting privacy and security issues to the Office of Management and Budget under the Federal Information Security Modernization Act.

In a Nov. 4 memo, OMB Director Shaun Donovan reminded agencies of their obligation to submit FISMA reports by Nov. 10 to the Department of Homeland Security's CyberScope reporting system. The memo also provides a more succinct definition of when a cyber breach becomes a "major incident" that requires reports to Congress.

"A breach constitutes a 'major incident' when it involves [personally identifiable information] that, if exfiltrated, modified, deleted, or otherwise compromised, is likely to result in demonstrable harm to the national security interests, foreign relations, or economy of the United States or to the public confidence, civil liberties, or public health and safety of the American people," the memo states. "An unauthorized modification of, unauthorized deletion of, unauthorized exfiltration of, or unauthorized access to 100,000 or more individuals' PII constitutes a 'major incident.'"

FISMA reports contain metrics on the number of major cyber incidents and their details, vulnerabilities and impacts. Under FISMA rules, the heads of departments and agencies must institute information security protections to address risk and potential harm from unauthorized access, use, disclosure, disruption, modification or destruction of information and information systems.

In his memo, Donovan said agencies' annual FISMA reports on security and privacy protections were due to the White House on Nov. 10, and reports are due to Congress by March 1, 2017.

Separately, the Federal Privacy Council, a community of interest led by a chief privacy officer at OMB, has launched a new website. It is a work in progress and is designed to link to the full range of federal privacy resources and information.

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 [email protected] or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


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