DOJ plans new cloud security program

security in the cloud (ShutterStock image) 

Department of Justice officials told a House appropriations committee the agency wants funding for a small program that will be a force multiplier for the security of its IT operations.

In a House subcommittee hearing on the Justice Department's proposed fiscal 2020 budget dominated by questions concerning Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report and other contentious political issues, agency officials mentioned a new, but small, IT program aimed at protecting data in the cloud as a key to the agency's future cybersecurity.

In his opening statement at the April 9 House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Attorney General William Barr noted a new program that would provide the agency's Office of the CIO with $2 million to extend cybersecurity protections to cloud data. The amount is a drop in the bucket of the agency's $29.2 billion budget request, but officials said it would reap outsized results.

Countering a growing threat, particularly from China's economic and "non-traditional" espionage against U.S. interests, "is a broad gauged threat and our highest priority," said Barr when asked over two hours into the hearing by Rep. Steven Palazzo (R-Miss.) about the agency's cybersecurity operations and budget.

"We have over $750 million overall in our budget" for cybersecurity efforts, "but a smaller piece is worth mentioning," interjected Lee Lofthus assistant attorney general for administration at the department who testified alongside Barr at the hearing. "It's only $2 million, but it will really have a bang for its buck. It's money put into the Justice Security Operations Center [JSOC] that allows us to protect our own networks from intrusions and malware. It's really important that the agencies protect their own networks," he said.

Barr included a mention of the program in his written statement as part of a large effort to address cyber, counterintelligence and counterterrorism at the agency.

According to the agency's budget documentation, the $2 million program would protect high value assets and information in agency data centers, as well as data that resides beyond on-premises networks in the cloud.

The program would allow the JSOC to extend sensors deeper into the agency's network architecture, integrate "behavior-based sensors at strategic network locations" and extend its detection and response capabilities beyond on-premises networks to "the places where our data resides."

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


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