DHS's Mark Weatherford on the Cybersecurity Act of 2012

Thursday, February 23, 2012

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While congress continues to wrangle with partisan political maneuvering where national security legislation is concerned, Mark Weatherford, Deputy Under Secretary for Cybersecurity, has publicly endorsed the recently unveiled Cybersecurity Act of 2012.

"It will help keep the American public safe from theft, fraud and loss of personal and financial data.  Another important component in the proposed legislation addresses one of DHS’ core cybersecurity missions – securing the federal executive branch networks," Weatherford says.

The Department of Homeland Security, for better or worse, has taken the lead in cybersecurity efforts for the federal government, and Weatherford believes the Cybersecurity Act of 2012 will enable the agency to better fulfill its mission.

"Protecting the “dot-gov” domain is critical because it’s not only where the government does its own business and maintains essential functions, but it’s also where we provide services to the American people. One of the ways DHS helps to secure these networks is through the National Cybersecurity Protection System, which leverages sophisticated intrusion detection capabilities. We also provide onsite technical assistance to help agencies bolster their own cybersecurity defenses and respond to incidents when they happen," Weatherford said.

The proposed legislation, which attempts to reconcile a hodgepodge of bills introduced in Congress over the past several years, would allow for DHS to better act as an information clearing house for multiple government agencies Weatherford says.

"The proposed legislation would enable DHS to be more effective and efficient in its protection of federal networks by clarifying DHS’ authorities in this space and enabling better sharing of cybersecurity information from other federal agencies to DHS."

Weatherford also points to the fact that the President’s FY 2013 budget request allocates an additional $200 million dollars in funding for federal cybersecurity efforts, which combined with reforms in the Cybersecurity Act of 2012, could lead to significant improvements in the federal security posture.

"The legislation would further this effort by modernizing the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) to focus agencies’ network security efforts on the implementation of actual security measures instead of  costly and ineffective paperwork exercises," Weatherford explained."

Whether or not the Cybersecurity Act of 2012 will be enacted over competing legislation is still in question, but Weatherford believes the bill will effectively allow DHS to better carry out the task of leading the federal government in improving information systems security.

"Cybersecurity is complex and always changing. The Cybersecurity Act of 2012 aligns closely with the Administration’s proposal and serves to better define what is expected of DHS and what tools are at our disposal to accomplish the cybersecurity mission. In short, it will enable us to execute on our current mission more efficiently and effectively to protect the federal government’s computer networks," Weatherford conlcudes.

Source:  http://blog.dhs.gov/2012/02/proposed-cybersecurity-legislation_17.html

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