National Cyber Security Division
The National Cyber Security Division is a division of the Office of Cyber Security & Communications, within the United States Department of Homeland Security‘s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. Formed from the Critical Infrastructure Assurance Office, the National Infrastructure Protection Center, the Federal Computer Incident Response Center, and the National Communications System, NCSD opened on June 6, 2003. The NCSD mission is to collaborate with the private sector, government, military, and intelligence stakeholders to conduct risk assessments and mitigate vulnerabilities and threats to information technology assets and activities affecting the operation of the civilian government and private sector critical cyber infrastructures. NCSD also provides cyber threat and vulnerability analysis, early warning, and incident response assistance for public and private sector constituents. NCSD carries out the majority of DHS responsibilities under the Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative. The FY 2011 budget request for NCSD is $378.744 million and includes 342 federal positions. The current director of the NCSD is John Streufert, former chief information security officer for the United States Department of State, who assumed the position in January 2012.
Risk Management The Key
The OMB report identifies the two largest and most substantial risk factors as, first, the legacy systems prevalent across so many agencies, and second, the shortages of experienced and capable personnel to maintain them. A GAO report published in July 2019, echoes that conclusion. It states that the vast majority of government agencies surveyed listed hiring and retaining key cyber security management personnel as their biggest challenge to improving their cyber security.
The various government reports issued by the Senate, OMB and the GAO all align on what needs to be done to improve the cyber security of our nations federal agencies. They all agree that the first step is to put into place risk management systems that will allow agencies to identify which areas need to be addressed and in what priority. One reason this is so important is because any solutions will likely outlast an agencys present leadership. As the GAOs Marino points out, the average tenure of an agency chief information officer is just two years. Technology solutions already proposed or in progress, such as the DHSs National Cyber Security Protection System , better known as Einstein, and Continuous Diagnostics and Migration program, may have lead times measuring a decade or more.
Why Cyber Security Matters
Canada is one of the most connected countries in the world. We live our lives online, and we need to be able to trust our cyber systems. Digital technologies and the internet are increasingly important to innovation and economic growth. A safe and secure cyber space is important for the security, stability and prosperity of Canada, and good cyber security is critical to Canadas competitiveness, economic stability, and long-term prosperity.
Cyber defence is a team sport. Government, industry, academia, and civil society must all work together to strengthen Canadas cyber security.
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Reporting Cyber Incidents To The Federal Government
Cyber Incident Reporting: A Unified Message for Reporting to the Federal Government
Presidential Policy Directive /PPD-41, United States Cyber Incident Coordination, outlines the roles federal agencies play during a significant cyber incident. The Department of Homeland Security is unique among agencies in that it plays a major role in both asset response and threat response. Asset response focuses on the assets of the victim or potential targets of malicious activity, while threat response includes identifying, pursuing, and disrupting malicious cyber actors and activity.
DHS is the lead agency for asset response during a significant cyber incident. The departments National Cybersecurity and Communications Center assists asset owners in mitigating vulnerabilities, identifies other entities that may be at risk, and shares information across the public and private sectors to protect against similar incidents in the future. The Department of Justice, through the FBI and the NCIJTF, is the lead agency for threat response during a significant incident, with DHSs investigative agenciesthe Secret Service and ICE/HSI – playing a crucial role in criminal investigations.
This fact sheet, Cyber Incident Reporting: A Unified Message for Reporting to the Federal Government, explains when, what, and how to report a cyber incident to the federal government.
State Of The Security Infrastructure
The Senate report reviewed a decades worth of agency Inspectors General audits of their organizations compliance with the federal governments basic cyber security standards. The IG audits disclosed a number of systemic problems common to virtually all of the agencies. In addition to the inability to maintain and supply an accurate list of IT assets, it shows that a majority of the agencies fail to install security patches when notified to secure proven vulnerabilities did not, or could not certify the security readiness and operations of their systems and acknowledged that they are using legacy systems no longer supported by their original vendors making them increasingly costly and more difficult to secure.
It may be hard to believe, but DHS continues to use outdated, unsupported systems, such as Windows XP and Windows 2003.
Given all this, it should come as no surprise that the nations most secretive organization, the National Security Agency , was hacked just a few years ago of some of its most powerful cyber weapons. Weapons that since then have been used in a number of recent high-profile ransomware attacks on US cities and other targets of opportunity. Perhaps the only surprise is that it didnt happen sooner. Or when well discover its happened again.
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Governments And Election Cybersecurity
While governments, in general, have a responsibility to protect infrastructure, one area where governments should have complete control of security issues occurs during elections. All US citizens should have the right to a free and fair election process. Elections are the cornerstone of democracy and it is critical that voters are not falsely influenced by other countries meddling. Along similar lines, citizens should also feel confident in the electoral process. Cybersecurity experts should look at all areas of potential breaches, including voter registration lists, voting machines, electronic vote-counting systems, etc. This would ensure that there are no security gaps in the election system.
Citizens also have the right to be confident in election results. There should be a transparent and reliable process that ensures audits of the vote count are conducted both quickly and carefully. There is no guarantee that cyberattacks or meddling in elections will stop, so government officials need to come up with ways to work together on this issue. This requires working across all levels of government to ensure a safe election process.
Testimonials From Cyber Security Professionals
Have a look at what current cyber security professionals from across the federal government have to say about what they love most about their careers in cyber security and cyber crime:
“I manage a team of cyber security professionals in a specialized area of cyber security. Our work consists of special projects, unique programs, customer engagement, and of course, work in our technical lab. It’s where the rubber hits the road with regards to cyber engagement, where the work is constantly challenging, but always rewarding! I go to work every day in a field that I love, with people who are passionate about the mission, and where the projects and programs on which I am involved with make a difference to the lives of not only Canadians, but to our allies and partners as well.”
– Rob, Manager, Cyber Engagements, Critical Infrastructure, Public Safety Canada
– Anonymous employee, Canadian Security Intelligence Service
– Anonymous employee, Government of Canada
“I enjoy leading a diverse team of military and civilian members who are passionate about providing Cyber Defence support to military operations and the Defence Team.”
– Marilyne, Canadian Forces Network Operations Centre, Department of National Defence / Canadian Armed Forces
“My work is meaningful and helps protect Canada. I love knowing that I’m making a positive contribution to Canada’s future.”
– Angela, Supervisor, Academic Outreach and Engagement, Canadian Centre for Cyber Security
– Justin, Public Safety Canada
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Federal Agencies With A Role In Ensuring Enterprise Cybersecurity
As hackers hone their skills, businesses deal with cybersecurity concerns on a daily basis. Most major hacks to date have focused on a specific company or agency. But what if a large cyberattack were to occur on a national scale? Who would enforce cybersecurity measures and provide guidance to businesses on what to do and how to react?
Though some federal guidance is still being worked out, the following is a roundup of five agencies that have a role in ensuring cybersecurity and responding to cyber incidents:
The Federal Bureau of Investigation:
Until recently, the level to which the federal government could get involved in a major private sector cybersecurity incident was unclear. But last month, the White House issued a presidential policy directive on cyber incident coordination. The PPD outlines the federal role and pledges that, in the case of a major private sector cybersecurity event, federal government responders will safeguard sensitive private sector information and abstain from interfering while remaining informed of the affected organization’s response.
The PPD also directs that, in the event of a cybersecurity incident or threat, the FBI and the National Cyber Investigative Joint Task Force will take the response lead.
A “relevant sector-specific agency” will also work with the federal government to help it understand “potential business or operational impact of a cyber incident on private sector critical infrastructure.”
U.S. Secret Service:
Cyber Careers Within The Government Of Canada
Cyber security professionals within the government of Canada play a critical role protecting our citizens, economy and democracy.
We are sharing information about this exciting career path, and highlighting career opportunities in the federal government.
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Are The Government Corporations And Individuals All Responsible For Cybersecurity
To some degree, everyone is responsible for cybersecurity. Governments have a responsibility to protect their citizens, and in the modern world, that means taking steps to ensure that digital resources are protected from outside interference.
Companies need to keep their customers data safe. At the same time, its important for users of technology to implement cybersecurity measures, such as using decent passwords and avoiding phishing schemes.
While cybersecurity is a complex and ever-evolving process, taking certain precautions can help minimize the risks. And ultimately, the cybersecurity responsibility falls on everyone whether you are a government official, a business CEO, or an average Joe.
Resilience Of Democratic Institutions
Fair and free elections are a hallmark of American democracy. The American peoples confidence in the value of their vote is principally reliant on the security and resilience of the infrastructure that makes the Nations elections possible. Accordingly, an electoral process that is both secure and resilient is a vital national interest and one of the Department of Homeland Securitys highest priorities. The Departments Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency is committed to working collaboratively with those on the front lines of electionsstate and local governments, election officials, federal partners, and vendorsto manage risks to the Nations election infrastructure. CISA will remain transparent and agile in its vigorous efforts to secure Americas election infrastructure from new and evolving threats.
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Collaboration With Critical Infrastructure Owners And Operators
Because the private sector owns and operates most of the critical infrastructure in the U.S., CISA sees working with critical infrastructure owners and operators as central to its mission. The agency worked closely with industry partners in mapping out the Critical Functions list because, as an agency spokesperson tells CSO, Neither government nor the private sector alone has the knowledge, authority, or resources to do it. Public-private partnerships are the foundation for effective critical infrastructure security and resilience strategies, and timely, trusted information sharing among stakeholders is essential to the security of the nations critical infrastructure.
Information sharing with industry is also key to other CISA programs such as the Automated Indicator Sharing program, which is an early warning system that allows a company or federal agency to share information in near real-time after an attempted compromise has been observed. The goal of AIS is to allow industry and government partners to protect themselves before an intrusion occurs.
CISA says that since March 2016 , it has shared more than six million unique cyber threat indicators with partners. The agency currently has more than 250 organizations connected to its AIS server and more than 4,000 third-party AIS connections, a CISA spokesperson says.
More on critical infrastructure:
What Agencies Are Responsible For Cybersecurity
Cybersecurity Jobs in Government. Government agencies that use cybersecurity professionals. This department is responsible for defense. Intelligence Agency of the United States. It is the accountability office of the government. This agency is responsible for national security. Bureau of Investigation of the Federal Government. Here are five reasons why cyber security jobs in the government are on the rise.
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Will This Problem Resurface In The Future
The issue of whether corporations should help law enforcement decipher encrypted devices remains, and we may see a new wave of similar court cases in the future.
This situation occurs because authorities are constantly fighting terrorism, crimes involving pedophiles, gang activity, online child pornography trafficking rings, human trafficking networks, and drug cartels. There are numerous other groups that regularly use advanced encryption to protect their data from law enforcement investigations. The issue as to whether or not corporations should allow access to encrypted devices is a more complex situation.
Encrypted devices usually store personal information about the owner of the device and if law enforcement has immediate access to this information, it could help solve numerous crimes. The issue at hand deals with corporate policy versus government policy. When a corporation releases the information from an encrypted device, they have to decide whether or not they will open themselves to future liability from the person whose data was released. This situation becomes even more complicated when a government agency requests that a corporation provide access to an encrypted device because it may result in direct legal action against them for hindering a criminal investigation.
The Importance Of Cyber Technologies In Government
Every day the federal government fends off tens of thousands of cyberattacks from adversaries. Some of these attacks are simple phishing emails aimed at hopefully tricking an unassuming federal employee to more sophisticated attacks targeting the nations most precious data assets.
Protecting federal agencies from cyberattack is not an easy job, but an incredibly important one as more and more information goes digital. When you think about the mission of the federal government, agencies host the personal information of every man, woman and child in the country, financial data, information related to national security and nearly everything in between. The government presents a treasure trove of information that hackers want.
To fight back, government agencies use cybersecurity tools. As the hackers have gotten more sophisticated so have the tools to stop them. Agencies need to protect data at every stage of its life from the moment it is collected, to when it is transmitted, to where it is stored and finally until it is deleted. At the NIH Information Technology Acquisition & Assessment Center, we understand this challenge. More importantly, we understand the technology agencies need in order to keep information secure.
As the federal government has learned in recent years, keeping information secure can be difficult, but failure to do so can be catastrophic.
The OPM Breach
Looking at Cyber Solutions
Here are some popular forms of cybersecurity technology:
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Examples Of Election Cyberattacks
Unfortunately, over the past few years, elections in both Europe and the United States faced numerous attacks.
Some recent examples of attempted election attacks include the following:
- In 2015, the European Unions e-voting websites, the Federal Election Commission and the State Registration Service, were targeted by Denial-of-Service attacks concurrently with the start of local elections and referendums.
- In the run-up to the US presidential election in 2016, a wide range of Russians searched for vulnerabilities in state voter databases and hacked the Hillary Clinton campaign, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee , and the Democratic National Committee . They also attempted to breach Sen. Marco Rubios campaign and the Republican National Committee. Additionally, politically damaging information was released online and false information was spread via Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram.
- In 2018, the US government accused Russian nationals of attempting to tamper with the 2016 presidential election. This represented a shift from detecting and defending malicious activity to directly confronting cyber threats.
A Constant Threat Of Attack
Our federal agencies are under constant, relentless attack. As the Senate report details, in 2017 alone, government agencies reported 35,277 cyber attacks, an average of nearly 100 a day. But that figure does not include the number of attempted scans or probes of agency networks. If those incidents were included, the number of potential attacks would more than double.
Even more disturbing, the majority of the agencies surveyed could not provide a list of all their information technology assets. They literally have no idea what they have, where they are, and therefore, all of the applications good or bad — running on their networks. As Nick Marino, director, information technology and cyber security, for the U.S. Government Accountability Office puts it, what you dont know, you dont know. Without that basic knowledge, agencies cannot secure their applications. It also means that the officially reported numbers of cyber attacks need to be taken with more than just a grain of salt. They are really no more than very conservative guesstimates. As a recent report by the Office of Management and Budget concluded, agencies do not understand and do not have the resources to combat the current threat environment.
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