Agency managers outline accelerated information security plans

Agency managers outline accelerated information security plans

Federal technology managers have jammed the pedal to the metal on information security. The terrorist events of Sept. 11 have seen to that.

At the Federal Aviation Administration, a plan to create a round-the-clock computer emergency response team has been pushed up to where it is operating now.

'Instead of going 24-7 in nine months, it is 24-7 now,' said Michael F. Brown, director of FAA's Office of Information Systems Security. He spoke this morning at a meeting of the Bethesda, Md., chapter of the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association.

FAA, Brown said, would speed up its security research program in conjunction with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. One technology the cooperative is examining is IP hopping, in which message traffic is continually flipped from one IP address to another to foil hackers. If the technology works, it would resemble the frequency-hopping capabilities of digital radio, Brown said.

At the Treasury Department, chief technology officer Don Hagerling echoed the feelings of many federal managers when he said, 'Friday was our day to grieve. Today is our day of remembrance, when we get back to work, making our systems better, our country better, our lives better.'

Hagerling, who took a two-hour leave of absence from Treasury to attend the breakfast so he could speak unofficially, said the department would rush to get Microsoft Windows XP installed throughout. Agencies should dispense with their fear of XP as a new operating system, he said.

'XP is not a new OS. It is a fix of Windows 2000 with its operational and security issues,' Hagerling said. But, he added, because XP is not a trusted OS, Treasury would be using trusted versions of Sun Microsystems Solaris for sensitive applications.

He said Treasury would speed up several security initiatives, including:

  • Replacing its virtual private networks of frame relay over ATM in favor of switched, secure IP nets

  • Requiring tokens for user log-ons and, later, biometric-equipped smart cards

  • Moving of Web sites to virtual machine hosts so hackers can't get to physical servers.

  • Hagerling admonished agencies to not shrink in response to terrorist actions.

    'I don't want those SOBs to win,' he said of terrorists. 'The way they win is if we deny access and shut things down.'


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