Safeguarding and Securing Cyberspace
DHS has made significant progress since 9/11 in enhancing the security of the nation's critical physical infrastructure as well as its cyber infrastructure and networks. Today's threats to cybersecurity require the engagement of the entire society—from government and law enforcement to the private sector and importantly, members of the public—to block malicious actors while bolstering defensive capabilities.
Progress Made Since 9/11
Analyzing and Reducing Cyber Threats and Vulnerabilities
- National Cybersecurity Protection System: Developed by DHS as the nation's focal point for cyber activity and analysis, The National Cybersecurity Protection System fulfills a key requirement of the National Cybersecurity Protection Plan (NCPP) to work collaboratively with public, private, and international entities to protect infrastructure, enhance situational awareness and implement analysis, warning and risk-management programs.
- EINSTEIN: Initially deployed in 2004, this system helps block malicious actors from accessing federal executive branch civilian agencies while working closely with those agencies to bolster their defensive capabilities. EINSTEIN 2 is an automated cyber surveillance system that monitors federal internet traffic for malicious intrusions at 15 Departments and agencies and four Managed Trusted Internet Protocol Service providers. EINSTEIN 3 will provide DHS with the ability to detect malicious activity and disable attempted intrusions automatically.
- Trusted Internet Connections: As part of the Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative, DHS works to reduce and consolidate the number of external connections that federal agencies have to the Internet in order to limit the number of potential vulnerabilities to government networks and to focus monitoring efforts and security capabilities on limited and known avenues for Internet traffic.
- U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT): In partnership with antivirus companies, US-CERT takes proactive measures to stop possible threats from reaching public and private sector partners by developing and sharing standardized threat indication, prevention, mitigation, and response information products with its .gov partners and constituents.
Distributing Threat Warnings
- National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center: Opened in October 2009, this 24-hour watch and warning center serves as the nation's principal hub for organizing cyber response efforts and maintaining the national cyber and communications common operational picture. DHS also works with the private sector, other government agencies and the international community to mitigate risks by leveraging the tools, tradecraft, and techniques malicious actors use and converting them into actionable information for all 18 critical infrastructure sectors to use against cyber threats.
- Cybersecurity Partners Local Access Plan: DHS enhances information sharing with cleared owners and operators of critical infrastructure and key resources, as well as state technology officials and law enforcement officials, through access to secret-level cybersecurity information and video teleconference calls via local fusion centers.
- Information Sharing and Analysis Centers: DHS enhances situational awareness among stakeholders including those at the state and local level as well as industrial control system owners and operators by allowing the federal government to quickly and efficiently provide critical cyber risk, vulnerability, and mitigation data.
Coordinating Response to Cyber Incidents
- Interagency Collaboration: In October 2010, DHS and DOD signed a landmark memorandum of agreement to align and enhance America's capabilities to protect against threats to critical civilian and military computer systems and networks while ensuring appropriate levels of privacy.
- National Cyber Incident Response Plan: Developed in September 2010, this plan coordinates the response of multiple federal agencies, state and local governments, and hundreds of private firms, to incidents at all levels. DHS tested this plan during the CyberStorm III national exercise, which simulated a large-scale attack on the nation's critical information infrastructure.
Ensuring Safety of Cyber Systems
- Cybersecurity Workforce Initiative: Since its creation, DHS has increased its cyber staff by 500 percent while working with universities to build the cybersecurity pipeline through competitive scholarship, fellowship, and internship programs to continue to attract top talent.
- Technological Development and Deployment: DHS is guiding research and development as well as advancements in scientific and technical knowledge to support cybersecurity through targeted grant programs that encourage academic research, private sector investment, and innovation from small businesses.
- Stop.Think.Connect.: The Department's Stop.Think.Connect. public cybersecurity awareness campaign is designed to increase public understanding of cyber threats and promote simple steps the public can take to increase their safety and security online.
- National Cybersecurity Awareness Month: Every October, DHS and its public and private sector partners promote efforts to educate citizens about guarding against cyber threats.
Implementing 9/11 Commission Recommendations
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and its many partners across the federal government, public and private sectors, and communities across the country and around the world have worked since 9/11 to build a new homeland security enterprise to better mitigate and defend against dynamic threats, minimize risks, and maximize the ability to respond and recover from attacks and disasters of all kinds.
Together, these efforts have provided a strong foundation to protect communities from terrorism and other threats, while safeguarding the fundamental rights of all Americans.
While threats persist, our nation is stronger than it was on 9/11, more prepared to confront evolving threats, and more resilient in the face of our continued challenges.
Read the Implementing 9/11 Commission Recommendations, Progress Report 2011