Whitehouse renews call for cyber IG

One lawmaker thinks it's time for a dedicated inspector general with the authority to do penetration testing of federal agency networks and systems.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.)
 

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) is looking to establish a cybersecurity inspector general with the authority to probe federal networks for weaknesses. A cyber IG, Whitehouse argues, would be a way to recruit cybersecurity experts who would prefer to focus on penetration testing and other white hat activities, rather than toil in one of the more than 70 IG offices around government. 

"This could be the sexy place to work for cyber experts," Whitehouse told FCW in an interview before a keynote at a Nov. 1 conference.

Whitehouse also noted that among the 72 inspectors general, none has "clear white hat penetration authority."

"It would have been nice to have known that [the Office of Personnel Management] was totally open to the Chinese by having somebody go and have a hack at them," Whitehouse said.

The senator's suggestion comes as others on Capitol Hill are looking for ways to test and evaluate cybersecurity risks across the federal enterprise. One House bill, which would have given cybersecurity audit powers to the National Institute of Standards and Technology has been revised to allow for NIST experts to work with IGs but not be responsible for audits.

While Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross hadn't staked out a public position on the bill in the House Science Committee, many NIST insiders had problems with the bill.

"We already have enough that we're not doing that we have to do," Matthew Scholl, chief of NIST's Computer Security Division said at an Oct. 25 meeting of NIST's Information Security and Privacy Advisory Board.

In a July 20 letter to the NIST director and the director of the Office of Management and Budget, ISPAB chairman Chris Boyer, a vice president for public policy at AT&T Services, said the bill could have a negative impact on NIST.

"Recent proposals to expand NIST's purview with audit authority over federal agencies could compromise NIST's hard earned reputation as a trusted and effective honest-broker in the cybersecurity community. Even if this authority were restricted to federal agencies, private sector stakeholders might be less inclined to collaborate with NIST if they suspect its guidance could later become a regulatory standard with compliance requirements," Boyer wrote.

Whitehouse has his own concerns about the NIST Cybersecurity Framework forming the template for cybersecurity compliance across the federal enterprise and among critical infrastructure providers. He noted a recent Senate event where an electrical company executive said the NIST framework was not sufficient as a base to secure the grid. Whitehouse's concern is that the framework has not been stress tested, and he sees the cyber IG role as a way to accomplish this.

"It is possible in this world for participant in a process to be happy with the process because they are being asked so little. And it is possible for participants in a process to be happy with the process because it is so robust and meaningful and effective," Whitehouse said. "We need to sort out which is which."

Whitehouse wants lawmakers to look back to a bipartisan report he led along with Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee. At the same time, Whitehouse is not optimistic about the current state of the administration when it comes to providing support to legislative efforts. He complained at an Oct. 19 hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee that Attorney General Jeff Sessions couldn't name a contact at the Department of Justice who is working on cybersecurity legislation.

While Whitehouse appreciates the commitment and expertise of White House advisors Tom Bossert and Rob Joyce, he said he sees bigger problems when it comes to policymaking.

"At this point, I think it's very hard for the agencies to get meaningful direction from the White House when it's so dysfunctional and when it's so wrapped up in tweets and investigations," Whitehouse said.

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.