Experts find fault with cyberdirective

Experts find fault with cyberdirective
Experts find fault with cyberdirective 

By Jason Miller
February 18, 2008

When President Bush issued a classified cybersecurity directive early 
last month, he reversed 21 years of policy that had prevented the 
Defense Department and the National Security Agency from having 
oversight of civilian agency networks.

Some opponents of the directive, which include several former Office of 
Management and Budget officials, say that National Security Presidential 
Directive 54/Homeland Security Presidential Directive 23 authorizing 
intelligence monitoring of all federal agency network will create a new 
set of information technology security problems and raise privacy and 
civil liberties concerns that had been avoided until now.

To solve the security problem, they want to use intelligence monitoring? 
asked Glenn Schlarman, a former OMB official in charge of security 
policy who is now a consultant. DOD has not done a great job of 
defending its own networks, Schlarman said, adding that there are 
starkly different needs and purposes for intelligence gathering and 
computer security.

Schlarman is one of several former OMB officials who disapprove of parts 
of the presidents classified directive. They said it violates the 
Computer Security Act of 1987, the Federal Information Security 
Management Act of 2002 and the Privacy Act of 1974. Until now, Schlarman 
and others had fought and won a recurring battle to prevent DOD and NSA 
from having a role in managing civilian agency networks.

Bruce McConnell, who was at OMB for 15 years and was chief of the 
information policy and technology branch for many years, testified 
before Congress last week that the classified directive could have a 
potentially chilling effect on the free flow of information between 
government and citizens.

It is impossible for DOD to balance the needs of security and 
monitoring, McConnell told House lawmakers last week.

McConnell, who is president at Government Futures, a consulting company, 
said the directive has garnered a lot support because of repeated 
attacks on federal networks.

Asked about the concerns expressed by former OMB officials, Karen Evans, 
OMBs administrator for e-government and IT, said the new policy has been 
fully vetted, and it is clear what everyones roles and responsibilities 

Evans said she could not comment further because of the classified 
nature of the directive.

Several critics say such secrecy is one of their concerns. People have 
consistently concluded that this kind of secrecy slows down the 
responsiveness and effectiveness of responding to network security 
problems, said Jim Dempsey, the Center for Democracy and Technologys 
policy director. That is why the Computer Emergency Readiness Team 
publishes vulnerabilities and their fixes as quickly as possible.

DOD and NSA have been trying to obtain rights to monitor federal 
computer networks since 1984, when John Poindexter, then the National 
Security Advisor, issued a directive. Each time, OMB and lawmakers 
stopped or staved off those attempts.

Either no one raised these concerns, or they finally got into a 
situation where they went above the OMB staff level and to the White 
House staff and convinced them it was the right thing to do, Schlarman 

Dempsey said he believes this latest effort to change agency network 
oversight originated with Mike McConnell, director of national 
intelligence. For McConnell, this is the latest chapter in a 20-year 
effort, he said. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence 
referred all questions about the new cyberdirective to the Homeland 
Security Department.

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