Homeland security is a very big job - encompassing everything from border control to cybersecurity to staving off nuclear attacks - and it can't be done without better reliance on technology and better coordination between the federal government and state and local officials and law enforcement, Dept. of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said in a speech last week. Speaking at the Commonwealth Club in Santa Clara, Calif., last week, just two weeks after he announced a major restructuring of DHS, Chertoff spoke in some depth about the new post of Assistant Secretary of Cyber and Telecommunications, as well as DHS' plans to use technology to handle such issues as border security, attack detection, transportation security, and mass transit. As a result of a department-wide review, Chertoff said, he realized that cybersecurity is a critical aspect of the security portfolio and that DHS needed to elevate the importance of cybersecurity. In his address to tech leaders, he explained:
This position will serve to support the security of the resources so critical to our nation and so fundamental to the work many of you do here in Silicon Valley. This is a position the tech community has recommended and asked for – we listened to that input and acted upon it – and we will continue to be open to your suggestions so we can better work together on our shared challenges. Going forward, the Assistant Secretary for Cyber and Telecom will play an integral part as we implement our information technology infrastructure protection plan, as well as prepare for a large scale cyber security exercise this November to test our preparedness.The many jobs government needs to do for cybersecurity include:
- maintaining and enhancing a "robust cyberspace response system";
- improving information exchange and working relationships between government and industry;
- integrating "cyber priorities into our infrastructure protection plans and prepar[ing] ourselves to respond to new technology threats.
On working with state and local governments
DHS' recently prepared National Preparedness Goals -- and additional, risk-based planning -- "will form our standard in allocating future DHS grants to our state and local partners so that we build the right capabilities in the right places at the right level." He emphasized the role of technology in prevention, protection, response, and recovery.
Strengthening the protection of our valued infrastructure does not rest solely in the hands of the federal government. Local government agencies have valuable resources and experience that allow them to share in the responsibility for security. So, too, does private industry. We must unleash these resources.