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Press Releases :: June 25, 2009

Subcommittee Examines DHS’s and NIST’s Cybersecurity Efforts

(Washington, DC) – Today, the House Committee on Science and Technology’s Subcommittee on Technology and Innovation held a hearing to assess the cybersecurity efforts of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). DHS oversees cybersecurity for all federal civilian networks. NIST develops and promulgates the cybersecurity standards for all federal civilian networks. Subcommittee Members reviewed the agency’s current cybersecurity programs and received advice from private sector experts about how the federal programs could be enhanced to improve private sector infrastructure, the monitoring of federal networks, and the definition of cybersecurity performance with metrics and success criteria. 

“All of us, in both public and private sectors, rely on IT networks to manage everything from online bank accounts to the power grid. With this increased reliance on networks, we have become more sensitive to the security of these networks,” stated Technology and Innovation Subcommittee Chairman David Wu (D-OR). “Despite the substantial funding levels and many hours spent by federal employees on this issue, the assessment remains the same: our cybersecurity is poor.”
 
This hearing is the third in a series of hearings the Committee had held on cybersecurity. Today’s witnesses focused on the need, recommended in the administration’s 60-day Cyber Space Policy Review, for cybersecurity metrics and federal and private sector partnership to guarantee that our infrastructure is secure and reliable.
 
In January 2008, the Bush administration established the Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative (CNCI) to bolster the nation’s cybersecurity efforts. Numerous security experts expressed concern over the classified nature of the CNCI and stressed the importance of working with the private sector because 85 percent of the nation’s cyber infrastructure is held by the private sector.
 
“One key recommendation made in the Cyber Space Policy Review is the need for objectives and metrics to accurately measure cybersecurity performance. The development of these metrics would provide a base from which we could improve program assessment, budgeting, research and development prioritization, and strategic planning,” added Wu. “This recommendation mirrors the Subcommittee’s belief that agencies should be accountable for real-world outcomes, rather than outputs measured in terms of money spent, projects supported, and interagency meetings, which is how the agencies categorized their success at a previous cybersecurity subcommittee hearing last week.”
 
For more information on the Committee’s work on cybersecurity, visit our website.
 
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