A new cyber security tool is set to become operational in October and will give cyber analysts within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) more insight into capabilities and potential threats and vulnerabilities across federal civilian networks, a department official said on Friday.
The federal dashboard is set to go live in October and provide a “better enterprise picture” for DHS of federal civilian networks, Jeanette Manfra, assistant secretary for the Office of Cybersecurity and Communications, said.
“And we’ve never had this before,” she said at a cyber security event hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
The dashboard will take advantage of various tools being deployed on federal civilian networks that are designed to bolster cyber security inside these networks, and enable departments and agencies to better inventory the tools and sensors on their networks. The tools and sensors are being acquired through the Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation (CDM), with DHS in charge of the program and the General Services Administration overseeing the acquisition of the technology.
Manfra said the dashboard “will be a game changing capability for the government and for DHS in particular, because now all of that data is going to feed up to the agencies but it’s also going to feed to my organization’s operations center, the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center. And so what we will then be able to do is have insight down to the endpoint of what’s really on people’s networks, who’s on people’s networks, what events are happening on networks. And then my operators and analysts are going to have this much better enterprise picture of what our risk posture is as the government.”
Realizing the potential of the dashboard is still a couple of years away but the real-time situational awareness of the new capability will give Manfra’s team a greater awareness of vulnerabilities on federal networks, share information, and enable them to quickly help government network operators better protect their assets, she said.
“And that is completely different from anything we’ve ever had before,” Manfra said. “So we’re very excited about that.”
The dashboard is being provided by joint venture of small businesses called Metrica Team Ventures (MTV), with Metrica, Inc., the prime member of the team. The GSA in 2014 awarded a potential five-year $47 million contract for the dashboard.
Deployments of the CDM tools began with the “on-premise” networks and now are being added to cloud and mobile environments, Manfra said. The sensors allow for “automated hardware asset management, software asset management, identity authentication, and those sorts of capabilities that … will provide that security readiness posture for the CISO” and feed into the dashboard, she said. CISO refers to chief information security officer, a position found in many public and private entities to grapple with cyber security threats.