NIST reports progress on cyber framework

Halfway to the executive order's deadline, best practices and clear standards are taking shape.

power lines at sunset

The nation's critical infrastructure, including its power grid, is vulnerable to cyber attack. (Stock image)

The cybersecurity executive order President Barack Obama issued in February to fortify U.S. critical infrastructure is approaching a key benchmark, and officials note that while significant progress is being made, it remains an effort that will extend far beyond traditional deadlines.

Among the directives in the executive order was a measure for the National Institute of Standards and Technology to lead the development of cybersecurity framework within a roughly eight-month timeframe that would unify government expectations and requirements for public and private IT networks and systems. Since then, NIST has convened workshops involving both the public and private sectors, and key lessons are reportedly emerging.

"We're keenly aware and sensitive to the fact that we're more than halfway through the 240 days the president gave us, so we're working diligently with our partners at [the Homeland Security Department and White House], and the private sector," said Chuck Romine, director of NIST'S IT Laboratory. Romine, speaking June 12 in Washington, D.C., added that the cooperation is yielding best practices identifying standards that contribute to the overarching goals of the executive order.

Particularly important has been the involvement of the owners of privately run critical infrastructure, such as utilities, Romine said.

"The owners and operators of critical infrastructure really do understand the behavior of our infrastructure better than the federal government can, so working with them on voluntary standards is exactly the right way to go for raising the bar of the baseline of security for the nation's infrastructure," he said.

The development of voluntary standards is critical to federal cybersecurity, Rep. Gerry Connolly (R-Va.) added, highlighting that the time to act is now, before a potentially serious attack.

"If something terrible happens...the public reaction is going to be strong and federal action will be inevitable," Connolly said, noting disappointment that Congress so far has failed to pass cybersecurity legislation. "We won't be talking about voluntary standards."

Outside of regulatory and legislative efforts, other changes are underway -- particularly behind the scenes as some high-level cybersecurity heavyweights push for less-tangible transformation. Such changes mean the government must step away from the traditional border-defense view of security, according to Michael Daniel, White House cybersecurity coordinator.

"Ultimately we need to think about other models," Daniel said. "We could think of it in disaster management terms. Some of our government's main role there is to operate national weather center – they're able to integrate information from the private sector and government and where ever [information] is coming from. Not every storm in the physical world prompts a federal response....that kind of model could be useful to think about how to respond [in cyberspace]."

Another model for federal cybersecurity could be medicine, Daniel added.

"Thinking of it in a public health model approach, if you look at how malware spreads across the internet, it actually mimics the biological system," he said. "Thinking about it in terms of a medical approach... [such as] how much do you need to vaccinate to prevent it from spreading? Those models could be much more effective in how we think about what the federal government's global role and activities in cyberspace should be."

Elsewhere in Washington, NIST officials reported to Congress on the development of cybersecurity standards. In a Capitol Hill hearing on cyber spending, NIST Director Patrick Gallagher spoke to lawmakers about efforts under the executive order before much of the focus of the hearing shifted to National Security Agency surveillance activities.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.