Cybersecurity has come a long way since Sept. 11

Friday, June 25, 2010

The June 20 editorial "The unreadiness team" mischaracterized the progress the Department of Homeland Security has made in securing the nation's cyber networks. While the DHS inspector general did identify areas for improvement, those who attended the hearing last week also heard an uncommon thing from an IG: praise. He told Congress that DHS "has come a long way since 9/11 in protecting cybersecurity, particularly in the last two years."

DHS has elevated cybersecurity to one of the five priority homeland security missions, but it was not always so, and more people and greater capability do not appear overnight. So in fiscal 2009, we tripled the number of cybersecurity personnel within my directorate, and we are doubling that number again this fiscal year. The editorial turned this success story on its head, comparing an already outdated headcount to the fiscal year-end target. We have great people on board and are adding to our staff.

We provide real-time, on-site assistance to private-sector entities that seek support in the heat of an incident. We have expanded into the industrial controls area in an effort to reduce risks to the smart grid and other new technologies. We are also ahead of schedule in deploying intrusion detection and warning systems at government agencies.

Finally, the editorial made three mentions of limitations on DHS authority in enforcing its recommendations. While Congress considers bills that would enhance DHS's clout, DHS will continue diligently and competently deploying resources in cyberspace on behalf of the American people.

Philip Reitinger, Washington

The writer is deputy undersecretary for national protection and programs at the Department of Homeland Security.

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