Auditors ding US-CERT on international cooperation
Although White House policy documents from this and the previous administration acknowledge that cybersecurity is an international issue by the mere fact of network interconnectedness, US-CERT within the Homeland Security Department does not consistently communicate with foreign counterparts, says the DHS office of inspector general.
In a report (.pdf) dated August 2012, auditors say US-CERT (housed within DHS's National Protection and Programs Directorate) also doesn't cultivate relationships with foreign computer emergency response teams.
Some foreign CERT officials told auditors they don't even know who they could contact at the U.S. organization.
"Without improved communication, some international CERTs and counterparts may be reluctant to maintain a strong, trust-based working relationship with US-CERT," auditors warn, also stating that some international CERT officials have said that US-CERT hasn't responded with timeliness to their submissions and that their communication with US-CERT is unidirectional--information goes in, but not out.
One international CERT official said it would like US-CERT to share specific information such as threat signatures. DHS officials said such data is proprietary and walled off from sharing due to national security concerns, adding that other countries' CERTs act the same way due to local privacy laws or other restrictions.
In response to an auditor recommendation that US-CERT dedicate more resources and attention to the international community, Rand Beers, NPPD head, said the response team "already dedicates sufficient resources" to it. US-CERT officials told auditors they would pay more attention to building international relationships if they had extra resources.
The report also says that within NPPD there exist multiple international affairs programs and that each program office manages its own engagements. NPPD officials told auditors they have an internal review underway studying a proposal to consolidate NPPD international affairs functions--not just for cybersecurity, but also for US-VISIT and within the office of infrastructure protection.
- download the report, OIG-12-112 (.pdf)
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