IWS - The Information Warfare Site
News Watch Make a  donation to IWS - The Information Warfare Site Use it for navigation in case java scripts are disabled

Google Ads




TESTIMONY OF THE HONORABLE GEORGE C. NEWSTROM
SECRETARY OF TECHNOLOGY, COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA
AND CHAIR, SECURITY COMMITTEE OF THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF STATE CHIEF INFORMATION OFFICERS (NASCIO)

Word Version

HOUSE SUBCOMMITTEE ON CYBERSECURITY, SCIENCE, RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT AND HOUSE SUBCOMMITTEE ON INFRASTRUCTURE AND BORDER SECURITY

HEARING ON PRIVATE-PUBLIC PARTNERSHIPS: INFORMATION SHARING BETWEEN THE DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY AND CRITICAL INFRASTRUCTURE SECTORS

April 21, 2004

Chairman Thornberry, Chairman Camp and Members of the Subcommittees,

Thank you for inviting me to appear before you today. I am before you today wearing two different hats: one representing the Commonwealth of Virginia as its Secretary of Technology and the second as the Chair of the Security Committee of the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO).

I would like to offer my perspective on the issues of partnership and information sharing with particular regard to Virginia’s cross-sector efforts to secure its critical and information infrastructures and NASCIO’s efforts to coordinate DHS’s interaction with the states on these matters. Virginia and NASCIO appreciate your attention to this important matter and willingness to get input from a state and organization that have direct stakes in the outcome. We believe that success in cross-sector infrastructure assurance and information sharing will be the result of persistent effort by many parties, advancing in spurts during times of urgency and more incrementally during times when trust and cooperation must be solidified for the long haul.


Efforts By NASCIO

At NASCIO, as I indicated, I serve as chair of their Security Committee. This committee addresses the role of state Information and Communications Technology (ICT) both in terms of how it supports the wider needs of state homeland security directors and in how state governments should be protecting their critical information assets. We also oversee NASCIO’s Interstate Information Sharing and Analysis Center (ISAC) efforts, which arise out of a July 2002 memorandum of understanding with DHS’s Infrastructure Coordination Division (ICD), led by James Caverly.

Protecting Governments’ Critical Information Assets

The information infrastructure is the only part of America’s critical infrastructures that are under attack everywhere, all the time. Unfortunately, “cyber” threat on a national scale is still treated as secondary to any physical threat whether it be chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosive. NASCIO believes that, while cyber-terrorism per se is still an emerging threat, we must press forward toward a coordinated, intergovernmental approach to protecting governments’ critical information assets if we are to ensure that critical governmental business functions—especially those supporting homeland security—will be available when needed. If we can secure our systems from hackers and organized criminals, we will have gone a long way toward securing them from terrorist and enemy nation states.

NASCIO has long realized the interdependencies of federal, state, and local information systems, which drives the need for an intergovernmental approach. Toward that end, we produced a document in 2002, titled “Public-Sector Information Security: A Call to Action for Public-Sector CIOs” that emerged from a forum convened by NASCIO in the wake of 9/11. We also convened a roundtable discussion that included local, state, and federal participants last July here in Washington.

The primary lessons we have learned are that government ICT personnel should be considered a core component to state and local emergency response capabilities, because without everything from databases to wireless communications the first responders cannot do their jobs. Also, given the fact that the states, counties, and cities, are the primary mechanisms for delivering critical services to citizens – including federal programs, if the information systems of a state or local government go down, the ability of the other levels of government to do business within that jurisdiction will be significantly impaired, if not interrupted. This creates a cascading effect.

Supporting State Homeland Security Decision-Makers

While the CIO is charged with protecting the state’s critical information assets, he or she is also charged with managing the day-to-day operations of a wide variety of information systems and infrastructure that support first responders and homeland security leadership. Up to now, homeland security ICT has primarily been defined as those systems serving law enforcement and emergency managers. However, as state efforts to fuse information for intelligence and all-hazards incident-management purposes become more sophisticated, a wide range of information systems will be drawn into the effort, including those from public safety, public health, transportation, and agriculture among others.

Homeland Security at the state and local level is less about organizational change and more about cultural adjustment. Homeland security, like technology, requires an enterprise approach that synchronizes and harmonizes disparate parts under a common umbrella. Key to succeeding with this cultural change is achieving vertical and horizontal sharing and integration of information – something that requires effective application of technology. This will require the CIO, with statewide oversight, to help manage the development and deployment of systems that can meet the ever-changing needs of homeland security decision makers while maintaining appropriate levels of privacy and security. Our adversaries will continue to change their tactics. Therefore, our information systems must be able to help state homeland security directors and DHS gather the information they will need to counter these evolving threats.

Focused Action By The Federal Government Is A Necessity

It is so important that the federal government consolidate its information dissemination capability. While it might be necessary to have separate public safety, military and cyber efforts, we should not have multiple, uncoordinated information dissemination efforts within each of those categories as we do now. Virginia knows from first hand experience that the FBI and DHS are issuing separate information products to the law enforcement and non-law enforcement communities respectively. This makes it difficult for state homeland security directors and CIOs to understand the full spectrum of threats faced by the state without staying abreast of multiple channels and fusing the information internally.

NASCIO knows by way of its work with all the states, that other federal agencies, particularly those in the departments of Justice and Health and Human Services, are issuing cyber alerts to their state and local programmatic counterparts, which are not incorporated into the National Cyber Security Division (NCSD) of DHS alert products. NASCIO would be very willing to work with Mr. Yoran and the new Federal Chief Security Officers Council to develop an intergovernmental warning process so that state CIOs, homeland security directors, and program specific leadership receives coordinated, consistent as well as timely alerts and notices.

As the ‘911 Commission’ has heard now on many occasions, the issue may be less on what and how much we know but who knows it and who they share the information with. In the area of cyber security, we are doing well at countering attacks on our infrastructure AFTER they happen. Isn’t our real objective to try to identify potential attacks in advance so that we can avert the costly efforts to eradicate them after they happen? The only way to do this is to ‘connect the dots’ - share information across federal and state agencies in a timely AND focused manner.

Sharing Information with the States

NASCIO has been actively engaged in sharing cyber-threat and incident information with and among the states as part of our Interstate ISAC program. We have also gathered information for targeted requests from DHS and provided feedback on the effectiveness of various information sharing and analysis practices. We have drawn on the goodwill of our corporate partners to provide the states with supplemental information to help them respond to fast-moving threats like worms and viruses.

We applaud Amit Yoran’s recent efforts at the National Cyber Security Division (NCSD) to engage the states directly and make the US-CERT a valuable tool for the entire ICT-using community, including individual U.S. citizens. We are currently working with Jim Caverly at ICD to further refine our ISAC program. We know that DHS, NASCIO, and individual states have very limited resources to contribute to any information sharing effort. Therefore, we seek to have an information sharing and analysis program that is as transparent as possible between DHS and the states. We also want it to provide targeted services with a definable return on the sweat equity investment by the states. This will take time. But, NASCIO has found its partners at NCSD and ICD to be very receptive to our suggestions for improvement and we remain committed to ensuring the success of any information sharing efforts with the states.

Our NASCIO Security Committee currently has two deliverables in progress for 2004, which might be of interest to you:

• A state and local addendum to the National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace.
Following a meeting with DHS and White House cybersecurity leadership, the National Governors Association (NGA) began working with NASCIO to take on the joint role of serving as ad hoc coordinators for the state and local sector. In that role, we will be forming a task force or working group to produce a brief addendum that will highlight the key sector implications of the strategy. It will also provide an opportunity to put forth some additional recommendations for action by our sector. This group will include state, county, and municipal chief information officers (CIOs) and chief information security officers (CISOs) as well as participants from the telecommunications directors, utilities commissioners, and educational community.

• Defining the role of the CIO in homeland security decision support.
NASCIO will shortly be releasing a detailed brief on the role of the CIO in supporting intra-state intelligence and situational awareness efforts, which combine to provide homeland security leadership with what we are calling “decision support.” It will include several calls for very precise state and federal action that we hope will prepare the states to fulfill the goals of the recently released National Incident Management System (NIMS) as well as support the ongoing deployment of new and enhanced information sharing networks by DHS CIO, Steve Cooper.

Efforts Specific to the Commonwealth of Virginia

The efforts undertaken by the Commonwealth of Virginia in securing its critical physical and infrastructure has been primarily focused on the development of partnership among key state and local agencies, the private sector and Virginia’s institutions of higher education to develop and implement strategies for securing and maintaining critical infrastructure.

As members of today’s committees know very well, Virginia is home to the Pentagon one of the three sites in the United States that was attacked on September 11, 2001. The memory of that day and its aftermath continue to permeate the consciousness of those serving in Virginia’s state government and local communities while serving as a guide for Virginia’s efforts in homeland security and critical infrastructure protection component.

To respond to these challenges, the Commonwealth of Virginia has three specific efforts underway that will be discussed today. These efforts are:

• The Secure Virginia Panel
• National Capital Region – Critical Infrastructure Vulnerability Assessment Project
• The Virginia Alliance for Secure Computing and Networking (VA SCAN)

The Secure Virginia Panel

As one of his first acts of office to respond to the challenge of protecting the Commonwealth, the Governor of Virginia, Mark R. Warner, signed Executive Order 7 on January 31, 2002, establishing the Secure Virginia Initiative and convening the Secure Virginia Panel. In bringing together state government, local government and the private sector, the Secure Virginia Panel and its working groups has served as the primary conduit for developing public-private partnerships to deal with the challenges in preparing for emergencies and disasters of all kinds, including terrorism.

Through the Critical Infrastructure Working Group (CIWG) of the Secure Virginia Panel, Virginia is tackling many of the same challenges that are also being addressed by the federal government. Also comprised of members representing state government, local government and the private sector, the CIWG is specifically charged with making recommendations that strengthen cyber and physical security for critical infrastructure throughout the Commonwealth. By identifying failure and inter-dependency points in critical infrastructure security and developing a methodology for prioritization of those points, the CIWG is attempting to answer three critical questions:

1. What critical infrastructure is needed to keep government operational?
2. How does the Commonwealth of Virginia best coordinate with local government and the private sector?
3. What organizational structure is best suited to ensuring a coordinated approach to both cyber and physical security of critical infrastructure located in Virginia?

To answer these questions, the CIWG has outlined six objectives that it plans to meet by December 2004. These objectives are as follows:

1. Development of a governance model that can best coordinate critical infrastructure protection and risk mitigation.
2. Identification of critical infrastructure.
3. Identification of inter-dependency and failure points in critical infrastructure protection.
4. Development of a methodology to prioritize critical infrastructure protection initiatives.
5. Assignment of responsibility within state government for coordinating critical infrastructure cyber and physical security efforts.
6. Coordination among the public sector, private sector and institutions of higher education to ensure the development and utilization of a consistent assessment methodology.

These efforts are facilitated by prior recommendations that have been developed by the Secure Virginia Panel. Specifically, in 2002, the Panel recommended legislative changes that would protect from FOIA the disclosure of critical infrastructure information submitted to state government by the public sector. Titled the ‘Sensitive Records Protection Act’ (HB 2210), the legislation was passed by the 2003 General Assembly and subsequently signed into law by the Governor.

National Capital Region – Critical Infrastructure Vulnerability Assessment Project

The vulnerability of the National Capital Region was made painfully obvious on September 11th, 2001. The coordinated partnership by the federal government, the states of Virginia and Maryland and the District of Columbia to the unique situation of our Capital region demonstrates the cooperative approach towards homeland security and critical infrastructure protection that is being pursued today.

Under the auspices of the post 9 /11 funding provided by Congress, Urban Area Security Initiative Grant Program as well as the Department of Justice Community Oriented Policing (COPS) program, funded through the Department of Homeland Security’s Office for Domestic Preparedness, a leading regional effort for critical infrastructure protection in the National Capital Region is being lead by George Mason University. This effort is part of a broader set of NCR initiatives being orchestrated by the Mayor of DC and Governor’s of Virginia and Maryland under the auspices of their representatives on the Senior Policy Group in partnership with community leaders.

The Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) is a program that helps develop sustainable models to enhance security and overall preparedness to prevent, respond to, and recover from acts of terrorism in high-density population centers. Specifically, UASI was created to “enhance the ability of first responders and public safety officials to secure the area’s critical infrastructure and respond to potential acts of terrorism. Initially, seven metro areas were identified: New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, Seattle, Chicago, San Francisco, and Houston. For the 2004 fiscal year, this number increased to 50, now including smaller cities such as Orlando, Florida, and New Haven, Connecticut.

For the National Capital Region, a strategy was developed to provide a strategic direction for preventing and reducing vulnerability in the region. The strategy was developed based on a number of inputs: the results of an assessment completed by communities in the National Capital Region in July 2003, the National Strategy for Homeland Security, the Eight Commitments to Action for the National Capital Region, and the State Template published by the Homeland Security Council. The Strategy focuses on four areas: planning, training, exercise, and equipment. George Mason’s activities fall within the planning area.

The grant from the Department of Justice Community Oriented Policing (COPS) program, complementing the efforts undertaken through the UASI initiative, focuses on the telecommunications, water, energy, and transportation sectors in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

In cooperation with five universities, including James Madison University, the University of Virginia, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech), the University of Maryland, and Howard University, the NCR Critical Infrastructure Vulnerability Assessment Project focuses on improving regional and sectoral methodologies for conducting vulnerability assessments. The ultimate objective of the project is to raise the level of security in the National Capital Region by ensuring that critical infrastructure sectors address the most important security concerns. The project seeks to enhance the capability and capacity of the National Capital Region to reduce vulnerability, minimize damage and increase resiliency. In addition to the regional universities engaged in this initiative, GMU is also working collaboratively with industry and government.

The Virginia Alliance for Secure Computing and Networking (VA SCAN)

The Virginia Alliance for Secure Computing and Networking (VA SCAN) is a partnership of universities that seeks to strengthen information security programs within the Commonwealth of Virginia. The partnership includes security professionals from George Mason University, James Madison University, the University of Virginia (UVA), and Virginia Polytechnic Institute (VA Tech) as well as researches and staff from the Institute for Infrastructure and Information Assurance (3IA) at JMU, the Center for Security Information Systems at GMU, and the joint GMU/ JMU Critical Infrastructure Protection Project (CIPP). Representatives from other Virginia institutions, including Mary Washington College, Radford University, The Virginia Institute of Marine Science, The College of William and Mary, Virginia Commonwealth University, and the Virginia Military Institute serve as advisors to VASCAN partners.

VA SCAN began offering products and services in March of 2003. The offerings are based on the principle that the most lasting improvements to security programs can be made not by performing security functions for organizations, but rather by educating and guiding management and staff teams in defining and carrying out their own security strategies and operations. Some of the products and services offered include:

• A Virginia – Critical Infrastructure Response Team (CIRT) group for tracking security threats
• Self-assessment checklist for Commonwealth of Virginia security standards
• Security policy development and security awareness training
• Onsite training and security instructional materials
• Onsite consulting on a variety of security topics and an “ask the expert” email service
• Web-based toolkit of security tools and best practices

Concluding Remarks

Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittees, Virginia and all the states represented by NASCIO are moving forward in the context of protecting critical infrastructures from physical and cyber vulnerabilities. This effort is requiring new ways of thinking and new types of relationships between public federal and state efforts. Much progress has been made but there is much more to do. I enjoy a close working relationship with Virginia’s homeland security team, state as well as local, as well as the leaders of the federal efforts at DHS. I know that we do not have all of the answers and we frankly do not have all of the questions. But we know that protecting our critical assets from cyber and physical threats is key to ensuring the safety of Americans and protecting our economic security.

In conclusion, my message to you is that, despite the continuing, daily attacks on our nations information infrastructure, cybersecurity is still seen as a secondary threat, and the interdependence of federal, state and local systems absolutely require a closer, more cohesive approach. Secondly, we are encouraged by the organization and leadership at DHS to move smartly and timely with the assistance of their state and local partners, and in particular, the recent re-evaluation of the ISAC approach and the new opportunities for effective change that represents. NASCIO will do what it can to assist by working with DHS's ICD and NCSD divisions to arrive at the most effective approach, and also by developing the state and local addendum to our National Strategy.

Let me take a moment to thank Robert Liscouski, Assistant Secretary for Infrastructure Protection, DHS; Jim Caverly, director, Infrastructure Coordination Division; Amit Yoran, director, National Cyber Security Division; Steve Cooper, chief information officer, DHS and George Foresman, Virginia’s Assistant to the Governor for Commonwealth Preparedness for all that they do towards our common goals.

Mr. Chairmen, I thank you and the members of your committees for the opportunity to testify before you today.



IWS Mailing Lists






Mailing Lists Overview