Committee pushes for cybersecurity post

House Homeland Security Select Committee report: "Cybersecurity for the Homeland"

Members of the House Select Homeland Security Committee have recommended establishing a new assistant secretary position within the Homeland Security Department to better integrate and coordinate cybersecurity issues.

The recommendation is one of six suggestions listed in a new 41-page, bipartisan report that was released today by the committee's cybersecurity subcommittee. The report stated that although DHS officials have created the National Cyber Security Division and several other coordination entities, "now is the time to build toward more robust capabilities."

It also stated DHS officials need to exert more effort to work with the private sector and across critical infrastructure sectors in addition to state and local governments. Specifically, the report said officials should:

Create an assistant secretary position within DHS' Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection Directorate to improve integration within the department and coordination of best practices, risk assessments and warnings across government and the private sector.

Develop a comprehensive and detailed program about current and future plans, implementation guidance and staff recruitment, retention and assignment goals. They should also provide budget information that would be linked to the national strategy.

Update the outreach, coordination and information sharing plan with the private sector, considering different needs of groups and innovative mechanisms for information sharing.

Improve performance on cybersecurity risk assessments and remediation activities that would include a plan for Internet-related recovery. They should also improve coordination with "cyber first responders" across the government and private sectors.

Identify specific initiatives in which DHS' cybersecurity division and the National Communications Systems, a two-dozen member federal interagency group that coordinates and plans for national security and emergency communications during crises, can work together because of their similar missions. Officials should advance the convergence of voice and data technology.

Support research and development and educational activities to improve products and services that are user-friendly.

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