New cyber authorities in new DHS legislation

Tom O'Keefecybersecurity, department of homeland securityBy Tom O’Keefe, consultant

A bill that has just made its way through the House would finally reauthorize the Department of Homeland Security, which has only been authorized once, in 2002.

There are several cyber provisions included in the House bill, which could mean a lot of opportunity for cybersecurity vendors if it ends up passing in the Senate (where it has, unfortunately, stalled before). But there’s a good chance that even if the bill doesn’t pass, we’ll see some of the additional authorities and responsibilities making their way to DHS components anyway.

Most of the specific provisions in the bill of interest here are ones that require certain components to own responsibility for cybersecurity of various locations. For example, the Transportation Security Administration would be responsible for assessing the cybersecurity of aviation systems, including airports and airlines, developing an information sharing project across the airline industry and assessing the vulnerabilities of the systems that house TSA PreCheck.

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A peek inside the government’s cyber strategy

By Nick Mirabile, director of cybersecurity

It seems like every month there’s a new high-profile cyberattack wreaking havoc on our networks. Which is why we recently gathered three federal IT leaders to talk about cybersecurity and how they’re safeguarding their agencies in an era of emerging threats.

This panel discussion last month was fascinating, with success stories on what they’re doing to protect networks, as well as the biggest challenges for how to stay ahead of the threats. I picked up on a few themes important for companies selling cybersecurity solutions to agencies:

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3 technologies law enforcement will need this year

By Tom O’Keefe, consultantTom O'Keefe

Law enforcement agencies are facing a myriad of challenges today, and they’ll be looking toward new technologies like artificial intelligence to help meet mission needs.

That was the message from government panelists at this week’s AFCEA Bethesda’s Law Enforcement & Public Safety Technology Forum. While the challenges raised by government are nothing new, interest in new solutions to these problems was expressed by leaders from the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice.

Each of these solutions has one common theme: ways in which law enforcement agencies can better manage, integrate and understand the massive amounts of data they collect in their day-to-day operations.

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What to watch now that we have a federal budget

By Chris Wiedemann, consultant

Last Friday, as the rain pounded the Washington, D.C. region, my colleague, Tom O’Keefe, and I huddled in a recording studio to chat with Mark Amtower on federal IT trends for his Amtower Off-Center show.

The 45-minute segment was posted here yesterday. Here are highlights of what we think the IT industry needs to know now that there’s a budget in place for the rest of the year.

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Is IT modernization on the horizon?

By Stephanie Meloni, consultant

With lawmakers voting later this week on the $1 trillion bipartisan budget deal, the battle over funding for the remainder of FY17 may be settled fairly peacefully.

If this omnibus passes, it will largely spare civilian agencies from deep cuts in funding. It also includes some interesting features technology companies will want to take note of that will impact IT budgets and priorities.

The omnibus includes no funding for the construction of a border wall but does include $1.5 billion for border security measures, which would include infrastructure and surveillance technologies. This will create opportunities around the internet of things (IoT)—collecting, integrating, securing, storing and analyzing relevant surveillance data. Getting involved early with IoT opportunities will be important as adoption picks up down the line and will give companies with solutions a chance to cite and build upon previous successes.

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5 DHS opportunities in the president’s proposed budget

Tom O'KeefeBy Tom O’Keefe, consultant

One of the few civilian agencies that likely won’t have its budget cut is the Department of Homeland Security. What’s less clear is exactly how the funding breaks down for DHS components.

The Trump administration’s plan to direct more funds to Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement by heavily reducing the budgets of the U.S. Coast Guard, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Transportation Security Administration are likely non-starters for congressional appropriators.

However, looking at the FY17 budget amendment and the FY18 budget request, we can get an idea of where some additional technology opportunities might appear at the department. The FY17 budget amendment requests $3 billion extra for DHS, with a third of that going to CBP to begin construction of the border wall. The FY18 “skinny” budget has a few more clues for where we might see increased investment at DHS:

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Trump has a cybersecurity plan and it needs your help

Lloyd McCoy Jr.blog-eocyberBy Lloyd McCoy Jr., DOD manager

We got a sneak peek this week into what the Trump administration is thinking about with its cybersecurity strategy and it appears there won’t be a major departure from previous administrations.

The Washington Post obtained a copy of a draft executive order on strengthening U.S. cybersecurity and capabilities that President Trump was scheduled to sign yesterday, but the event was postponed.

What I was able to glean from the draft is that it reaffirms cybersecurity as a preeminent national interest and its emergence as a new domain, comparable to air, land, sea and space. In order to protect this interest, the order endorses the “full spectrum” of capabilities to defend U.S. cyber interests, suggesting a policy that embraces both cyber-defensive and offensive toolsets.

In line with the previous two administrations, the order also emphasized protecting both public and private critical infrastructure. While none of this is a major departure, there are a couple of provisions in the draft order that impact the IT community.

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