Scott tells agency CIOs to speed up security measures

The federal CIO's message to agency IT officials doesn't mention the OPM breach, but it certainly conveys a sense of urgency.

Tony Scott  (Photo: VMware)

Federal CIO Tony Scott told agency CIOs to "dramatically accelerate implementation of multi-factor authentication," among other measures.

In the wake of the enormous breach of federal employee data, federal CIO Tony Scott told top federal agency IT officers to implement or bolster key security protections in the next 30 days to "mitigate our risks."

A June 11 memo from Scott, obtained by FCW, doesn't specifically mention the breach of the Office of Personnel Management data that exposed millions of past and present federal employees' data, but it carries a sense of urgency.

It tells agency CIOs and deputy CIOs to accelerate a number of cybersecurity measures in the next 30 days, with the Office of Management and Budget following up on their work through the President's Management Council, which advises the president and OMB on reform initiatives and oversees implementation of government-wide management policies and programs.

Scott told CIOs and deputy CIOs to ensure their Security Operations Centers have scanned networks for “indicators of compromise” listed in the Department of Homeland Security's -Computer Emergency Readiness Team's (CERT) Analysis Report posted on US-CERT's secure portal, and to inform DHS immediately if the scans turn up any evidence of malicious cyber activity.

The memo also instructed agencies to patch critical vulnerabilities, take immediate action on DHS's weekly Vulnerability Scan Reports, as well as tighten policy and practices for privileged users, minimizing their number and limiting functions under privileged accounts, limiting the time they can be logged in and limiting the privileged functions that can be performed using remote access.

The memo also tells agencies to "dramatically accelerate implementation of multi-factor authentication, with a priority on implementing for privileged users." That measure could entail implementing strong two-part smartcard-based authentication technology, which isn't yet widely deployed by most federal agencies.

Scott also tells CIOs to identify high value data, systems, equipment, infrastructure and applications, and to make a risk-based assessment of current cybersecurity and physical security protections for those items.