Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Vulnerabilities / Threats

5/11/2017
06:20 PM
Connect Directly
Google+
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
100%
0%

Trump Issues Previously Delayed Cybersecurity Executive Order

EO calls for immediate review of federal agencies' security postures, adoption of the NIST Framework, and a focus on critical infrastructure security.

President Donald Trump today signed an executive order on cybersecurity that squarely places on the shoulders of agency heads the security of their networks, systems, and data, as well as requires their adoption of the National Institute of Standards and Technology's cybersecurity risk framework of best security practices.

The EO, which has been in the works and revised a few times after fits and starts by the administration, for the most part echoes and builds on the policies of previous administrations, including FISMA and the Obama administration's critical infrastructure EO. The "Strengthening US Cyber Security and Critical Infrastructure" EO generally was well-received by cybersecurity experts in policy and technology, with a mix of views over whether it's a gamechanger and how it will roll out.

Among the key elements is a call for modernizing and consolidating government network technologies and infrastructures; a report on the technology supply chain risks to the US Department of Defense; support for security of critical infrastructure; an assessment of cyberattack and disruption of the nation's power grid; and a call for skilled cybersecurity talent.

"Effective immediately, each agency head shall use The Framework for Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity (the Framework) developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, or any successor document, to manage the agency's cybersecurity risk.  Each agency head shall provide a risk management report to the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) within 90 days of the date of this order," the EO says.

Christopher Pierson, CSO of Viewpost, says the EO addresses one of the key elements of cybersecurity: ownership. "Each agency head is now on alert that they own cyber as a part of their duties and must govern and appropriate time, budget, and people to tackle this. This is a critical first step as it place the onus on each agency head to make sure cyber is part of their mission," Pierson says. "The one throat to choke for accountability for federal cybersecurity is now clear."

Federal government networks and systems increasingly are being attacked and leaking sensitive data: the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) breaches in 2014 and 2015 that exposed sensitive information on 22 million Americans are a major case in point.

"Every agency has its own systems and does its best theoretically to protect them, and yet we already know federal systems are extraordinarily leaky and critical information is being hacked on a constant basis," says Mike Shultz, CEO of Cybernance, a cyber-risk governance firm. The EO calls for agencies to secure "the entire enterprise, not just harden this piece or that piece, and [specify] how they will manage the whole thing."

"This really represents a dramatic culture shift in the way the federal government is looking at cybersecurity," he says.

Obama administration cybersecurity coordinator Michael Daniel notes that the EO carries on the "general approach to cybersecurity" from both the Bush and Obama administrations, and doesn't necessarily represent any new policy directions. "It will be interesting to see whether the deterrence report and the international strategy will say anything new -- but in general, I don't see anything unusual or that really goes in a different policy direction.  Of course, this order is more of a plan for a plan, because an EO can only direct federal agencies to do things they can already do within the law, but the reports it calls for are good ones to have, for the most part," Daniel says.

Just how federal agencies will meet those goals depends on their in-house expertise, of course. Like the private sector, the feds are struggling to find and hire cybersecurity talent amid a talent gap crisis. It's unclear as yet whether Trump's hiring freeze on federal agencies includes cybersecurity positions, and just how proposed budget cuts could affect their ability to protect their infrastructures, experts say.

Paul Vixie, CEO of Farsight Security, says the EO's section on workforce development is a good addition. "This is a very interesting thing for the executive branch to be focusing on," he says.

The EO calls for the Secretaries of Commerce, Homeland Security, Defense, Labor, Education, and OPM, to assess a report on the US education and training efforts in cybersecurity of the public and private "workforce of the future, including cybersecurity-related education curricula, training, and apprenticeship programs, from primary through higher education."

The cabinet members are tasked with providing their findings and recommendations on this within 120 days, according to the EO. "What recommendations come out of that, I'll be interested to see," Vixie says. "They seem to be saying we need to start teaching 0s and 1s earlier on."

The think-tank Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) expressed disappointment in the Trump administration EO. "We are disappointed to see that this executive order is mostly a plan for the government to make a plan, not the private sector-led, actionable agenda that the country actually needs to address its most pressing cyber threats," said Daniel Castro, vice president of ITIF, in a statement. "The last administration put together a commission which left a comprehensive set of action items for the new administration to pursue that should have been the starting point for this order. While the executive order checks most of the boxes thematically, it generally kicks the can down the road instead of taking any decisive actions."

Related Content:

 

Kelly Jackson Higgins is the Executive Editor of Dark Reading. She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise ... View Full Bio
 

Recommended Reading:

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Threaded  |  Newest First  |  Oldest First
COVID-19: Latest Security News & Commentary
Dark Reading Staff 7/9/2020
Omdia Research Launches Page on Dark Reading
Tim Wilson, Editor in Chief, Dark Reading 7/9/2020
4 Security Tips as the July 15 Tax-Day Extension Draws Near
Shane Buckley, President & Chief Operating Officer, Gigamon,  7/10/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
Special Report: Computing's New Normal, a Dark Reading Perspective
This special report examines how IT security organizations have adapted to the "new normal" of computing and what the long-term effects will be. Read it and get a unique set of perspectives on issues ranging from new threats & vulnerabilities as a result of remote working to how enterprise security strategy will be affected long term.
Flash Poll
The Threat from the Internetand What Your Organization Can Do About It
The Threat from the Internetand What Your Organization Can Do About It
This report describes some of the latest attacks and threats emanating from the Internet, as well as advice and tips on how your organization can mitigate those threats before they affect your business. Download it today!
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-15105
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-10
Django Two-Factor Authentication before 1.12, stores the user's password in clear text in the user session (base64-encoded). The password is stored in the session when the user submits their username and password, and is removed once they complete authentication by entering a two-factor authenticati...
CVE-2020-11061
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-10
In Bareos Director less than or equal to 16.2.10, 17.2.9, 18.2.8, and 19.2.7, a heap overflow allows a malicious client to corrupt the director's memory via oversized digest strings sent during initialization of a verify job. Disabling verify jobs mitigates the problem. This issue is also patched in...
CVE-2020-4042
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-10
Bareos before version 19.2.8 and earlier allows a malicious client to communicate with the director without knowledge of the shared secret if the director allows client initiated connection and connects to the client itself. The malicious client can replay the Bareos director's cram-md5 challenge to...
CVE-2020-11081
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-10
osquery before version 4.4.0 enables a priviledge escalation vulnerability. If a Window system is configured with a PATH that contains a user-writable directory then a local user may write a zlib1.dll DLL, which osquery will attempt to load. Since osquery runs with elevated privileges this enables l...
CVE-2020-6114
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-10
An exploitable SQL injection vulnerability exists in the Admin Reports functionality of Glacies IceHRM v26.6.0.OS (Commit bb274de1751ffb9d09482fd2538f9950a94c510a) . A specially crafted HTTP request can cause SQL injection. An attacker can make an authenticated HTTP request to trigger this vulnerabi...