DHS Faces Challenges in Establishing Comprehensive Cyber Protection


By: Jim Kouri, CPP

Cyber analysis and warning capabilities are critical to thwarting computer-based threats and attacks. The Department of Homeland Security established the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) to, among other things, coordinate the nation’s efforts to prepare for, prevent, and respond to cyber threats to systems and communications networks.

The US Congress requested the Government Accountability Office to identify key attributes of cyber analysis and warning capabilities, compare these attributes with US-CERT’s current capabilities to identify whether there are gaps, and identify US-CERT’s challenges to developing and implementing key attributes and a successful national cyber analysis and warning capability.

To address these objectives, GAO identified and analyzed related documents, observed operations at numerous entities, and interviewed responsible officials and experts.

Cyber analysis and warning capabilities include monitoring network activity to detect anomalies, analyzing information and investigating anomalies to determine whether they are threats, warning appropriate officials with timely and actionable threat and mitigation information, and responding to the threat.

The GAO identified 15 key attributes associated with these capabilities. While US-CERT’s cyber analysis and warning capabilities include aspects of each of the key attributes, they do not fully incorporate all of them.

For example, as part of its monitoring, US-CERT obtains information from numerous external information sources; however, it has not established a baseline of our nation’s critical network assets and operations. In addition, while it investigates if identified anomalies constitute actual cyber threats or attacks as part of its analysis, it does not integrate its work into predictive analyses.

Further, it provides warnings by developing and distributing a wide array of notifications; however, these notifications are not consistently actionable or timely. US-CERT faces a number of newly identified and ongoing challenges that impede it from fully incorporating the key attributes and thus being able to coordinate the national efforts to prepare for, prevent, and respond to cyber threats.

The newly identified challenge is creating warnings that are consistently actionable and timely. Ongoing challenges that GAO previously identified, and made recommendations to address, include employing predictive analysis and operating without organizational stability and leadership within DHS, including possible overlapping roles and responsibilities.

Until US-CERT addresses these challenges and fully incorporates all key attributes, it will not have the full complement of cyber analysis and warning capabilities essential to effectively performing its national mission.



Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police and he’s a staff writer for the New Media Alliance (thenma.org). In addition, he’s the new editor for the House Conservatives Fund’s weblog. Kouri also serves as political advisor for Emmy and Golden Globe winning actor Michael Moriarty.

He’s former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed “Crack City” by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for several major organizations. He’s also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. Kouri writes for many police and security magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer and others. He’s a news writer for TheConservativeVoice.Com and PHXnews.com. He’s also a columnist for AmericanDaily.Com, MensNewsDaily.Com, MichNews.Com, and he’s syndicated by AXcessNews.Com. He’s appeared as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, Fox News, etc. His book Assume The Position is available at Amazon.Com. Kouri’s own website is located at http://jimkouri.us

About The Author Jim Kouri, CPP:
Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police and he's a columnist for The Examiner (examiner.com) and New Media Alliance (thenma.org). In addition, he's a blogger for the Cheyenne, Wyoming Fox News Radio affiliate KGAB (www.kgab.com). Kouri also serves as political advisor for Emmy and Golden Globe winning actor Michael Moriarty. He's former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed "Crack City" by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for several major organizations. He's also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. Kouri writes for many police and security magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer and others. He's a news writer and columnist for AmericanDaily.Com, MensNewsDaily.Com, MichNews.Com, and he's syndicated by AXcessNews.Com. Kouri appears regularly as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Fox News Channel, Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, etc. To subscribe to Kouri's newsletter write to COPmagazine@aol.com and write "Subscription" on the subject line.
Website:http://jimkouri.us

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