Cybersecurity Sharing is Working Says Homeland Security
On September 7th, 2016, a panel discussion was held at the Intelligence and National Security Summit highlighting the critical need for cybersecurity awareness. Robert Silvers, assistant secretary for cyber policy at the Department of Homeland Security, revealed some sobering statistics, but also had some positive words for the current state of cybersecurity sharing. One statistic that stood out: hackers are said to be creating upwards of 100,000 IP addresses daily in an effort to work against both private sector and federal computer networks. In the past five years alone, attack capabilities, as estimated by Silvers, have improved by some 75 to 80 percent.
Silvers stressed that because of the massive scale of cyber threats in general, both government and the private sectors need to continue to strengthen and grow their intelligence abilities. One side cannot do it alone. Steve Orrin, Federal Chief Technologist at Intel, went so far as to say that information sharing has become more critical than even having a framework in place to handle detected threats.
Encouraging signs of improvement have been seen from many angles, however. Michael Johnson, Energy Department CIO, was quick to point out that 17 national laboratories, as well as the National Nuclear Security Administration, work under the Department of Energy's Joint Cybersecurity Coordination Center. The synergy of these many high-power cybersecurity labs has led to a robust system for defense, as well as an intelligence database on relevant threats. Silvers, for his part, expressed that he was impressed and encouraged by talks he's had with the private sector.
To highlight the ways in which cybersecurity awareness and information sharing can work on a federal to private level, Silvers noted a case involving the Secret Service. In that instance, during the course of its normal cyber intelligence work, the Secret Service found a significant weakness in a credit card platform and quickly alerted its partners in the private industry. The vulnerability is now secured, and the issue was never taken advantage of negatively. This type of information sharing, nimble and flexible, is the type of partnership and communication the federal government is looking to improve on.
While more needs to be done, steps are being taken to improve relations with the private sector and set guidelines for cybersecurity information sharing. This was at the heart of the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act, passed last December. The act provides liability protection for companies willing to reach out to the DHS with possible emerging threats. This continued corporation and cybersecurity awareness will be vital in a developing online world of cyber threats and intelligence gathering.
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