OMB consolidating agency Internet connectivity

The Office of Management and Budget is calling on agencies to reconfigure their connection points to the Internet, in hopes of reducing the federal government's exposure to malicious hackers accessing agency networks.

OMB's newly announced Trusted Internet Connections requires agencies to develop a plan of action and a set of milestones by Jan. 8 on how they will reduce the number of connection points they maintain to the Internet.

The agency will introduce TIC to agencies with a governmentwide meeting in Washington on Nov. 30.

The overall goal, according to a Nov. 20 memo from OMB's Deputy Director for management Clay Johnson, is to reduce the total number of Internet connections used by federal agencies to 50.

TIC will 'optimize our individual network services into a common solution for the federal government,' Johnson wrote.

In order to comply with TIC, agencies will be expected to use the General Services Administration's Networx telecommunications contract, as well as the work completed for the Security Line of Business initiative and the Federal Desktop Core Configuration implementation project.

The memo also will require agencies to use the Homeland Security Department's U.S. Computer Emergency Response Team Einstein program to improve their response capabilities. The White House requested an additional $115 million Nov. 6 to expand the Einstein program under the DHS fiscal 2007 appropriations bill.

'This is an essential step because the Federal Information Security Management Act-based defenses have failed to stop the attackers from getting inside agencies,' said Alan Paller, director of research at the SANS Institute. 'Once they are inside, only very sophisticated monitoring can hope to find the infections.'

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