TSA unveils cyber roadmap

security (ranjith ravindran/ 

The Transportation Security Administration unveiled a cybersecurity roadmap that it says will not only line it up with current administration cybersecurity efforts, but also expand its collaboration with private commercial critical infrastructure partners.

TSA Administrator David Pekoske announced the roadmap that will guide its cybersecurity policy for the next five years in remarks at the American Association of Airport Executives aviation security summit in Arlington, Va. on Dec. 4.

The roadmap, he said, "is a first" for the agency and closely lines up with the overall DHS cybersecurity strategy, with its five supporting "pillars" of managing cybersecurity risk announced last spring.

TSA's roadmap tasks IT officials with conducting tighter risk assessment and mitigations for internal systems and puts an increased emphasis on external engagement. The agency wants stakeholders in the aviation, mass transit, freight rail, motor carrier and pipeline sectors to go beyond sharing threat indicators and look at lessons learned, potential consequences and vulnerability-related details, as well as response and recovery plans after a cyber incident.

Pekoske said DHS newly-renamed DHS Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) will play an integral part in the cybersecurity effort for the transportation systems sector that TSA oversees.

Pekoske said his agency is working with CISA to protect the "vast volumes of data we deal with" and to leverage that data in security risk assessment for the agency as well as the federal government.

The document defines pathways to integrate and improve the agency's cybersecurity posture, protect transportation systems and build up the agency's capacity to meet shifting cybersecurity technology.

The roadmap's priorities include risk identification; vulnerability reduction; consequence mitigation; and enabling cybersecurity outcomes.

The roadmap codifies efforts by TSA's CIO and CISO to work through threat assessments for internal systems and insure an "adquate level of security enterprise-wide and address systemic risks and interdependencies across and between systems." It calls for TSA to provide "tailored capabilities, tools, and services to protect legacy systems, as well as cloud and shared infrastructures."

The increased emphasis on protecting the huge volume of data collected by the agency from passengers and infrastructure operators, "should be music to the ears to people in the airport environment," said Pekoske in his remarks to the airport executives conference.

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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