Cyber-security Report Highlights Progress, Future

A White House progress report tells of U.S. efforts to secure critical networks against cyber-attack and mentions some things to come.

A cyber-security progress report from the White House July 14 shed some light on the government's cyber-security efforts and what officials have planned for the future.

President Obama released the results of a 60-day cyber-security review in May 2009 and declared cyber-security a national security priority. Since that time, the president has established the position of cyber-security coordinator now occupied by Howard Schmidt, the U.S. Cyber Command has become a reality and the federal government has revealed draft plans for a new identity management system for the Internet.

In addition to talking about the past, the report also said officials are developing a National Cyber Incident Response Plan to be tested in September as part of the Cyber Storm III exercise. The plan is meant to ensure a coordinated national response in the event of a "significant cyber-incident" and will be updated following the results of Cyber Storm III.

In addition, the National Security Staff Cyber-security Directorate is preparing an updated national strategy to further implementation of the plan outlined by the cyber-space policy review.

"President Obama has recognized that the 'cyber-threat is one of the most serious economic and national security challenges we face as a nation' and 'America's economic prosperity in the 21st century will depend on cyber-security,'" Schmidt noted in a blog post July 14.

According to the report, new cyber-security centers are "integrating and providing real-time situational awareness to [aid in] combating cyber-threats."

"DHS [Department of Homeland Security] has established the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center (NCCIC), integrating and eventually synchronizing the work of existing cyber- and communication incident response mechanisms into a unified operations center," the report stated. "DHS also opened the Industrial Control System-Computer Emergency Response Team facility to address cyber-security threats to critical infrastructure control systems."

The report also highlighted a growing level of cooperation between the private and public sectors, from creating checklists to identify vulnerabilities in smartphones to collaborating to enhance the security of industrial control systems. In addition, the government has been working with businesses to fight cyber-crime.

"The United States Government and the private sector are working to educate businesses in reducing and mitigating their financial risk from cyber-threats," the report said. "The FBI collaborated with the Financial Services Information Sharing and Analysis Center to issue a timely, ground-breaking joint publication on cyber-threats and mitigation strategies involving Automated Clearing House transactions."