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10/18/2010
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Government Ready For Cybersecurity Deadline, Officials Say

In opposition to earlier reports, the federal government says agencies are prepared for the November launch of the CyberScope reporting tool.




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When the federal government flips the switch to replace the government's arduous paper-based cybersecurity compliance process with a web-based one next month, agencies will be ready for the move, federal officials said Friday, despite a survey released this month that showed misgivings about readiness as recently as late July.

The new compliance tool, CyberScope, is scheduled to go live on November 15, and agencies are expected thereafter to answer compliance-related questions about their cybersecurity postures online, rather than through massive once-a-year paper reports that, as White House officials have admitted, gather dust on shelves.

"The reporting should be a byproduct of our security posture, not the end," federal CIO Vivek Kundra said. "The intent with CyberScope was first and foremost to make sure we're not just collecting information for information's sake, but we're acting to improve our security posture."

CyberScope represents a major shift in the way federal agencies report their compliance with the Federal Information Security Management Act, the law governing government cybersecurity. The goal, officials have repeatedly said since announcing the tool late last year, is to place an emphasis on operational security as opposed to meaningless, once-a-year compliance reporting.

In the past, substantive analysis required auditors to pour through paper-based reports for data, but the new web-based tool will enable quicker, cheaper analysis and a deeper understanding of federal cybersecurity, which should help determine just how secure federal agencies are. Agencies, themselves, won't have to write out physical reports anymore, and, as they bring new technology on board, will be able to automatically and in real time submit data to CyberScope.

"All agencies required to report will definitely be able to report by November 15," said Matt Coose, director of the federal network security branch of the Department of Homeland Security's National Cybersecurity Division.

In the time since MeriTalk fielded a vendor-sponsored survey of federal officials this summer that indicated a large swath hadn't used the tool and didn’t have a clear understanding of its mission or requirements, the DHS has done training and outreach with officials, educating agencies on the system and its requirements.

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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?

Join Dark Reading senior editor Sara Peters and guests Angela Knox of Cloudmark, Barrett Sellers of Arbor Networks, Regina Wallace-Jones of Facebook, Steve Christey Coley of MITRE, and Chris Roosenraad of M3AAWG on Wednesday, July 13 at 1 p.m. Eastern Time to discuss all this and more.