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.
Inside DHS' Classified Cyber-Coordination Headquarters
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Slideshow: Inside DHS' Classified Cyber-Coordination Headquarters
Still, agencies are only beginning to bolster the use of security management tools that will leverage CyberScope's more advanced features, which allow for automated input of security data. "The level of maturity with security management tools will vary somewhat," Coose noted. In the beginning, most of the data entry into CyberScope will be manual, Coose said, even though by November 15 most agencies will be able to automatically submit at least some data directly into CyberScope through XML feeds from their security tools.

CyberScope, which will be operated by DHS, is a core piece of a three-part, data-driven cybersecurity strategy coming from the White House that includes the adoption of security management tools, benchmarking for cybersecurity performance, and tackling agency-specific issues one by one.

Next year's budget guidance, for example, will ask agencies to invest in security management tools as part of their cybersecurity budget, according to officials. These tools will automatically feed data into CyberScope and should also enable agencies to get a better grip of their own cybersecurity. CyberScope will also serve as a foundation to a federal cybersecurity dashboard that's currently in development.

As the use of these tools grows and CyberScope itself becomes more sophisticated, agencies will be able to report more and more data automatically into CyberScope. Already, CyberScope can take in asset, configuration, and vulnerability management data being generated by agencies' management tools. The ultimate goal would be to have a vast majority of the data reported automatically, thus cutting overhead and time to analysis.

This real-time data, in turn, could be used by the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team and other government cybersecurity watchdogs to make operational decisions about how to mitigate vulnerabilities and threats; by high-level officials to make policy and budget decisions; and by agencies to protect their own networks.

As the Department of Homeland Security and others work to increase CyberScope's sophistication, it is approaching new metrics with security automation in mind. DHS has tasked a working group within the federal CIO Council to determine what the next automated feeds should be, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology is continuing to do work on related standards. Last month, DHS held a workshop at an annual government cybersecurity conference with vendors to discuss capabilities, tools, and potential metrics.