recommended reading

Progress is slow on cybersecurity goals, GAO reports

The White House's failure to assign agencies cybersecurity roles and responsibilities has slowed efforts to implement President Obama's plan for protecting computer networks, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office.

Of 24 recommendations in the president's May 2009 cyber policy review, only two have been fully implemented, GAO said. Those are the appointments of an official to coordinate cybersecurity policies and activities and an official to oversee privacy and civil liberties.

The 22 remaining recommendations have been only partially implemented, according to the report (GAO-11-24). For example, the plan for managing identities in cyberspace, which would help ensure people, organizations and computers are what they claim to be on the Internet, remains in draft form, though the Obama administration expects to finalize it this month. Also, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy is establishing a framework that defines areas worthy of further research and development, but it's not expected to be complete until 2011.

Officials from key agencies involved in cybersecurity efforts, including the Defense and Homeland Security departments, and the Office of Management and Budget, told GAO a lack of clearly assigned roles and responsibilities is hindering progress.

"Although the policy review report calls for the cybersecurity coordinator to assign roles and responsibilities, agency officials stated they have yet to receive this tasking and attribute this to the fact that the cybersecurity coordinator position was vacant for seven months," David Powner, GAO's director of information technology management issues, said in his report to Congress.

In addition, officials told GAO some recommendations, such as expanded sharing of information about cyberattacks and vulnerabilities, would take several years to implement.

The report also noted agencies largely were unable to provide timelines for completing the goals. Specifically, they could not produce milestones or blueprints for fulfilling 16 of the 22 near- and midterm recommendations.

"Our extensive research and experience at federal agencies have shown that, without clearly and explicitly assigned roles and responsibilities and documented plans, agencies increase the risk that implementing such actions will not fully succeed," Powner said. "Consequently, until roles and responsibilities are made clear, and the schedule and planning shortfalls are adequately addressed, there is increased risk the recommendations will not be successfully completed, which would unnecessarily place the country's cyber infrastructure at risk."

In oral comments on a draft of the report, Office of the National Cybersecurity Coordinator officials generally concurred with GAO's findings, but said they took exception with statements that gave the "general implication and conclusion that progress is not being made."

Threatwatch Alert

Network intrusion

Florida’s Concealed Carry Permit Holders Names Exposed

See threatwatch report

JOIN THE DISCUSSION

Close [ x ] More from Nextgov
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from Nextgov.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Modernizing IT for Mission Success

    Surveying Federal and Defense Leaders on Priorities and Challenges at the Tactical Edge

    Download
  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

    Download
  • Effective Ransomware Response

    This whitepaper provides an overview and understanding of ransomware and how to successfully combat it.

    Download
  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

    Download
  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.