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IT security officials share concerns




IT security officials share concerns
IT security officials share concerns



http://www.govexec.com/story_page.cfm?articleid=38409 

By Heather Greenfield  
National Journal's Technology Daily  
October 30, 2007

Government chief information security officers offered examples of 
emerging security threats they most worry about during an Information 
Technology Association of America security workshop Tuesday.

Patrick Howard, CISO for the Housing and Urban Development Department, 
said as more improvements are made to secure the perimeters of systems, 
he worries about more attacks through applications -- especially Web 
applications.

"That concerns me mainly because of the push to e-government," Howard 
said. "Applications give a ready avenue to our data." He said in the 
rush to make information out, holes are built in and there is inadequate 
testing.

"You can't just patch this; this is custom code we're talking about," 
Howard said.

Both Joe Gerrity, CISO for the Securities and Exchange Commission, and 
Michael Castagna, CISO for the Commerce Department, mentioned that the 
increasing need to share information electronically has created 
additional security issues.

"The need to know has shifted to the need to share," Gerrity said. "We 
tend to trust everyone on the inside and no one on the outside."

He said mechanisms are needed to better evaluate outside risks. He also 
is worried about people inside sharing information with those who seem 
like they are part of the data-sharing group.

Castagna said risks increase as organizational boundary lines get 
blurred. He said attackers would find an easy target by attacking at 
that blurred line as responsibility is blurred, too.

Patricia Titus, the Transportation Security Administration's CISO, said 
she is concerned about quantum computing that could "break encryption 
and all the things we're doing now protect data."

Later she noted obstacles to security because of the need to interact 
with outside entities and contractors, saying it is not realistic to 
issue government laptops to all of them. "I'd love it if corporations 
followed FISMA [the Federal Information Security Management Act] like we 
do," Titus said.

Treasury Department CISO Edward Roback said the threats to privacy and 
data that exist because of the declining cost of storage is a growing 
problem that makes his list.

He also is concerned about security impact of "outsourcing and 
outshoring" jobs. "It's continuing. It's accelerating," Roback said. 
"It's buried in software and in hardware customer service."

But his biggest worry, he said, is "the internal competency of people" 
He said it is a challenge to ensure that employees maintain competency 
in a world of outsourcing.

CISOs also shared ideas for how to get funding from their agencies to 
make security improvements. Roback said the good part of data-security 
breaches is they "focus the attention of senior management.

Titus advised others to present security investments to their bosses in 
terms of the cost of recovery from security breaches. "You really have 
to take your tech security hat off and put your business hat on," Titus 
said.

Howard said it helps to build cyber-security improvements into existing 
modernization efforts -- rather than a stand-alone budget item.


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