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3/18/2010
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DHS To Share Intelligence With Some CIOs

A Department Of Homeland Security pilot program allows some state, local, and private-sector officials to access classified information about cyberthreats.

Some public- and private-sector CIOs and chief security officers (CSOs) now have access to intelligence about security threats to critical infrastructure from state and local fusion centers through a new Department of Homeland Security (DHS) pilot program.

Through the program, underway now, CIOs and CSOs from state and local governments as well as private-sector organizations that partner with the federal government will periodically be allowed to read classified e-mails from fusion centers regarding cyber threats, said Amy Kudwa, a DHS spokeswoman.

Fusion centers coordinate counter-terrorist information and data collected by both government agencies and private companies.

CIOs and CSOs taking part in the program may also participate in quarterly cybersecurity briefings and discussions via secure video teleconference and/or audio teleconference, and access classified communications channels in the event of a cybersecurity incident, she said.

Greg Schaffer, the DHS assistant secretary for Cybersecurity and Communications, first publicly referenced the pilot in his remarks at the RSA Conference in San Francisco earlier this month.

The DHS hasn't decided whether or not the pilot will become an actual program and has set no deadline for making that decision, Kudwa said.

The DHS collaborated with the Department of Justice in 2003 to set up fusion centers that coordinate counter-terrorist information and data collected by both government agencies and private companies.

According to the DHS, it has invested more than $327 million to fund fusion centers, of which there are now more than 70, between fiscal 2004 and fiscal 2008.

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The cybersecurity profession struggles to retain women (figures range from 10 to 20 percent). It's particularly worrisome for an industry with a rapidly growing number of vacant positions.

So why does the shortage of women continue to be worse in security than in other IT sectors? How can men in infosec be better allies for women; and how can women be better allies for one another? What is the industry doing to fix the problem -- what's working, and what isn't?

Is this really a problem at all? Are the low numbers simply an indication that women do not want to be in cybersecurity, and is it possible that more women will never want to be in cybersecurity? How many women would we need to see in the industry to declare success?

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