US Government Agencies Play Catch Up with Cyber Security
by Jim Kouri, CPP
Research and development of cyber security technology is essential to creating a broader range of choices and more robust tools for building secure, networked computer systems in the federal government and in the private sector. As quickly as US government agencies upgrade security on their cyber systems, the "hackers" seem determined to bypass or defeat security measures
The National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace identifies national priorities to secure cyberspace, including a federal R&D agenda.Several federal entities are involved in federal cyber security research and development. The Office of Science and Technology Policy and OMB establish high-level research priorities.
The Office of Science and Technology Policy is to coordinate the development of a federal research agenda for cyber security and oversee the National Science and Technology Council, which prepares R&D strategies that are to be coordinated across federal agencies.
The Council operates through its committees, subcommittees, and interagency working groups, which oversee and coordinate activities related to specific science and technology disciplines. The Subcommittee on Networking and Information Technology Research and Development and the Cyber Security and Information Assurance Interagency Working Group are prominently involved in the coordination of cyber security research. In addition, other groups provide mechanisms for coordination of R&D efforts on an informal basis.
The National Science Foundation and the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security fund much of this research. Federal entities have taken several important steps to improve the oversight and coordination of federal cyber security R&D, although limitations remain.
Actions taken include chartering an interagency working group to focus on cyber security research, publishing a federal plan for guiding this research, reporting budget information for this research separately, and maintaining repositories of information on R&D projects.
However, a federal cyber security research agenda has not been developed as recommended in the National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace and the federal plan did not fully address certain key elements.
Further, the repositories do not contain information about all of the federally funded cyber security research projects in part because OMB had not issued guidance to ensure that agencies provided all information required for the repositories. As a result, information needed for oversight and coordination of cyber security research activities was not readily available. Federal agencies use a variety of methods for sharing the results of cyber security research with federal and private organizations (technology transfer), including sharing information through agency Web sites.
Other methods include relying on the researcher to disseminate information about his or her research, attending conferences and workshops, working with industry to share information about emerging threats and research, and publishing journals to help facilitate information sharing.
Sources: Department of Homeland Security, Department of Defense, Government Accountabilty Office, American Society for Industrial Security, National Association of Chiefs of Police Private Security Committee
Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police. He's former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed "Crack City" by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for a number of organizations. He's also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. He writes for many police and crime magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer, Campus Law Enforcement Journal, and others. He's appeared as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, Fox News, etc. His book Assume The Position is available at Amazon.Com, Booksamillion.com, and can be ordered at local bookstores. Kouri holds a bachelor of science in criminal justice and master of arts in public administration and he's a board certified protection professional.