The Bush Administration is making progress in cyber security through the creation of a new interagency group to gather information and assess cyber security breaches to various federal agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, the National Security Agency and the Department of Defense.  According to a report by the Washington Post, the White House has selected Rod A. Beckstrom to head up the interagency group, which will be based in the Department of Homeland Security.  Beckstrom, who comes highly recommended from both the National Security Agency and the Department of Defense, co-authored ‘The Starfish and the Spider’, which argues that de-centralized organizations are more resilient to attack than top-down systems and provides a new cyber approach in dealing with such threats as al-Qaeda.  In addition to his writing background, Beckstrom is a high-tech entrepreneur who played a significant role in the launch of and also serves on the Board of Trustees at Environmental Defense Fund.

The new interagency group will coordinate efforts between the various federal agencies under the direction of the National Security Presidential Directive 54/Homeland Security Presidential Directive 23, signed on January 8 of this year, to assess U.S. cyber security and assist the different agencies in cyber-defense and appropriate responses to cyber attacks.  The new national security directive expands the intelligence community’s role, in particular the National Security Agency, in monitoring the internet traffic and computer networks of all federal agencies.

Although not yet formally stated, the interagency group will likely fall under the direction of the Department of Homeland Security’s National Cyber Security Division and will complement the existing four pillars of the National Cyberspace Response System, which include:
– Cyber Security Preparedness and the National Cyber Alert System
– US-CERT Operations
– National Cyber Response Coordination Group
– Cyber Cop Portal

The concept of a National Cyberspace Response System was first proposed in the Bush Administration’s February 2003 National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace.

In a report from earlier this year, I explain both the state and non-state threats facing cyber-security today, as well as various initiatives and responses that are being taken by U.S. government agencies, the private sector and through international cooperation, dating as far back as 1987, to combat a wide range of cyber threats to both private and government systems.  My colleague Peter Brookes also  gives a more statistical analysis of the cyber threat and addresses the danger presented by nations such as China and Russia to U.S. national security through the exploitation of cyber systems.