Where's the new cyber strategy?

Image from Shutterstock.

He told federal agencies to hurry up and “sprint.” Now it’s hurry up and wait.

Federal CIO Tony Scott had promised that the results of the federal cyber sprint would be made public July 20. But his office -- wrestling with the influx of data and the crafting of a government-wide cyber strategy -- has yet to release the highly anticipated report.

The Office of Management and Budget has declined to officially offer an alternate publication date; a source familiar with the review could only say results would be published “later this summer.”

"As we're nearing the end of the 30-day sprint, I have positive results to report," Scott told reporters July 9, saying agencies have "dramatically increased" two-factor authentication for privileged users and claiming that "a number of agencies have hit 100 percent."

Speaking with Reuters July 11, Scott took a realist’s tone, noting that when it came to accomplishing the broad goals of the sprint, "Some [agencies] will get there, and some won't."

Those major goals include:

  • Immediately deploying indicators provided by the Homeland Security Department regarding priority threat-actor techniques, tactics and procedures to scan systems and check logs.
  • Patching critical vulnerabilities without delay.
  • Tightening policies and practices for privileged users.
  • Dramatically accelerating implementation of multi-factor authentication, especially for privileged users.

The reviews will inform a new Federal Civilian Cybersecurity Strategy.

A government-wide push

Paul Christman, vice president for federal at Dell Software, said he’s been struck by the embrace of the sprint across government.

“I was expecting people in the intelligence community, in the Defense Department, to sort of shrug,” Christman said. “But it’s actually been across the board.”

The Marine Corps, Interior Department and VA are among the agencies seizing the sprint’s opportunity to beef up security.

Some agencies, such as the independent, non-CFO Act Federal Communications Commission, aren’t reporting to Scott’s office, but are following the sprint’s developments nonetheless.

“We're tracking the guidance and incorporating it into our own practices,” said FCC CIO David Bray, “[even though] technically we don't have to report what we did to OMB.”

New breaches uncovered?

The whole sprint was inspired by the massive breaches discovered at the Office of Personnel Management in June.

As Scott told Reuters, it’s possible the sprint uncovers new breaches in other agencies.

"I think it's a realistic chance,” he said.

An inspector general investigation sparked by the OPM breach found 3,000 "critical and high-risk vulnerabilities in publicly accessible computers" at Interior, Deputy IG Mary Kendall said last week.

New breaches or no, the sprint will only be as effective as agencies make it, and not all have been on the right track.

“I’ve had some really, really depressing conversations with people on how they’re implementing two-factor authentication,” Christman noted. Applications, not just physical devices, need to be able to recognize and accept two-factor credentials, Christman stressed. Otherwise, agencies revert back to username/password combos for application logins, leaving huge security gaps.

As for the federal CIO’s report, one reason it is taking a while might be because of the volume and variety of data reported from across the government.

“[T]here is no single pane of glass for the federal government,” noted NASA CIO Larry Sweet. “The data gathered from each agency reflects the diverse infrastructure across the federal government.”

“The responses will be so varied, it will be interesting to see how they’re aggregated,” said Dell’s Christman, noting that compiling results will be more like “grading an essay test” than a multiple-choice quiz.

The report should expose the true state of federal cybersecurity.

“There's probably no CIO in any federal agency now who wants to be the bottom of the list,” Scott told Reuters.

But the sprint and the ensuing cyber strategy are not the end of anything – they’re just the beginning.

“[The s]print should be thought of as ‘warm-up exercise’ for where we plan to go,” Scott tweeted July 19. “[N]o one should be confused ...”

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.