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Quick Study

By Brian Robinson

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Cybersecurity roundup: Training, stalling, deterring, outlook

In our daily peregrinations across the Web we come across many things with the prefix cyber ( these days, how can you not?) and, quite frankly, they are too numerous to mention individually. But for the edification of our millions of readers, here’s some of the more interesting and pertinent:

Air Force training: The Air Force has apparently cottoned to the fact that it will soon—if it isn’t already—be engaged in cyberwarfare and so believes it should be including relevant programs as a part of its basic training. Gen. Robert Kehler, head of the Air Force Space Command, said that would cover such things as using firewalls and passwords, likening it to learning how to use a rifle or pistol. More advanced training will include learning about computer networks and vulnerabilities.

Senate stalling Cyber Command: The Senate is delving a little deeper into the meaning of cyberwar and what it will mean in terms of collateral damage and retaliation if the United States launches cyber strikes. It’s using the nomination of Lt. Gen. Keith Alexander to head the new Cyber Command as a way to examine these issues more closely, sparking a cyber tap dance as military officials try to answer questions without giving too much away (sound familiar?).

NRC report on preventing attacks: The National Research Council and its bevy of illustrious experts is looking into the possible cyber deterrence strategies the government could follow, and what that might mean for the policies it adopts. It issued a letter report as the first phase of that project, outlining the key issues and questions that merit examination.

Federal cyber security outlook: Security firm Lumension commissioned a survey of “federal IT decision-makers and influencers” about the state of the government’s security, and found a growing confidence despite the recognition of burgeoning threats. Increased audit burdens and lack of resources (sigh!) were identified as major challenges.

Posted on Apr 13, 2010 at 7:27 PM0 comments


Another high-level administration officials takes to the blog

In the very dry world of the people who deal with public records it’s not usual for them to speak extemporaneously, so I think that the fact that the Archivist of the United States has his own blog is a big deal.

Actually, judging by his first entry, someone needs to take David Ferriero and tell him a few things about the blogging medium. Such as – loosen up Dave! You don’t have to write a blog post as if it’s a press release. Personality, man, that’s what people want to see.

As far as blogs go, though, he’s already a step ahead of the game. The name of his blog is “AOTUS: Collector in Chief.” Now, that is a cool title. He should be able to do great things writing under that.

To his credit, Ferriero gives out some newsworthy notes in his first post about how the Archives will be taking a more proactive lead in bringing agencies together to deal with records management issues, particularly electronic records. He also talks intriguingly about providing “incentives for rewarding agencies” that best use technology for their records management.

And he offers up some tasty historical tidbits, such as:

At the conclusion of the Continental Congress, the Massachusetts delegate, Rufus King, advised that the records of the proceedings either be destroyed or given to the President. He feared that if the records were scattered or corrupted by those with an interest to do so, they could be used to distort history and deceive future generations. He understood the vital importance of records management.

Love that stuff! Keep it coming, Dave.

The Archives does have another blog, called NARAtions, which is written as a collective by NARA employees. It has general news about what NARA is about, but it also contains great examples of how NARA hunts for information in all kinds of records, and provides valuable hints on where to find things, such as this about genealogical research.

If, like me, you are a bit of a nerd about these kinds of things then you can’t get enough of this. Go, AOTUS, go!

(Tip O’ the Pen to FreeGovInfo)

Posted on Apr 09, 2010 at 7:27 PM0 comments


Cybergeddon: Information security as a global concern

We all know the digital infrastructure is global, of course, but it still tends to be cast in a local perspective. The U.S. gets hit and we’re all bothered, but who really cares about Estonia or anyone else?

The EastWest Institute is hosting an event next month, timidly titled The First Worldwide Security Summit, which looks to be trying to get its hands around that very question. Its equally low profile aim is to “determine new measures to ensure the security of the world’s digital infrastructure.”

Hyperbole apart, this event actually seems to be trying to bring together some experts of real note, who should have something to say on the subject. The U.S. National Security Adviser, James Jones, will be taking part, as will Howard Schmidt, the U.S Cybersecurity Coordinator. There are others from past administrations, as well as foreign officials and heads of big companies.

Whether or not this gathering will actually be able to come up with any concrete proposals -- and the first thing I’d like to see is a definition of “the world’s digital infrastructure” -- there’s no doubt that international agreements will be needed at some stage.

That’s because the international threats are accelerating. The U.S. government and some of its contractors were hit early this year as part of a broad attack reported by Google, and which supposedly originated in China. Now comes news of cyber espionage networks targeting the United Nations, embassies and others.

There are some attempts underway to broaden the international outlook. The Brits, for example, are proposing ways to protect against cyber attacks both in the U.K. and in Europe.

However, so far there’s been no obvious concerted effort to bring the international community together to work up agreements on how to tackle the global threats. As we start to hear in more apocalyptic terms about the approaching Cybergeddon, you’d think things like the EWI summit and more heavyweight meetings would already be commonplace.

Posted on Apr 06, 2010 at 7:27 PM0 comments


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