A server room.

A server room. Flickr image via Dave Herholz

Here’s Obama’s IT Security To-Do List For Preventing the Next OPM Hack

An ambitious long-term framework to strengthen federal cybersecurity brings a waterfall of near-term deadlines for agency officials carrying out the new plan.

The White House last week issued a broad new action plan for closing persistent cybersecurity gaps that have plagued federal agencies for years.

The “Cybersecurity Strategy and Implementation Plan for the Federal Civilian Government” presents a long-term framework for shoring up agencies’ online security -- but presents a waterfall of new deadlines in the short term for agency officials responsible for implementing the new plan.

Below are most of the deadlines agency chief information officers, chief information security officers and other officials are expected to meet, as laid out in the administration’s new cyber action plan.

Oct. 30, 2015

White House releases the “Cybersecurity Strategy and Implementation Plan for the Federal Civilian Government.”

Nov. 13, 2015

All agencies must identify and report to the Department of Homeland Security an inventory of their high-value assets -- federal systems containing sensitive or critical data.

Dec. 31, 2015

  • The director of national intelligence will lead a threat assessment of those agency assets “that are at high risk of targeting by adversaries.” DHS and others will “continuously diagnose and mitigate the cybersecurity protections” for the high-value assets.
  • The Department of Homeland Security will expand its intrusion-detection system known as EINSTEIN to all federal civilian agencies.
  • Agency CIOs are to identify their top five talent gaps in the area of IT security. OPM, meanwhile, will compile a list of existing special hiring authorities agencies can use to hire cybersecurity professionals to accelerate hiring.
  • The CIO Council will establish a subcommittee focused on ways to rapidly deploy emerging technology.

Jan. 31, 2016

OMB will release a new plan for implementing cybersecurity shared services. Areas include: identity services, mobile security, network segmentation and encryption.

March 31, 2016

OMB will update 2007 guidance on safeguarding personally identifiable information. The original memo, issued during the Bush administration, first required agencies to develop breach-notification policies.

April 30, 2016

  • GSA will finalize a contract vehicle for pre-vetted services for incident response services that can quickly be leveraged by agencies in the wake of a breach. GSA will also develop a “business due diligence information service” to provide agencies with a governmentwide capability for identifying and managing supply chain risks in the acquisition process.
  • The administration will publish a new “Cybersecurity Human Resources Strategy” aimed at helping agencies recruit, develop and maintain a pipeline of cybersecurity talent.

June 30, 2016

The National Institute of Standards and Technology will issue new guidance to agencies on recovering from a variety of cyberincidents, such as a standard data breach or a destructive malware campaign. Currently, “federalwide and agency-specific policies and practices for recovering from cyber events are inconsistent and vary in degree of maturity,” the plan states.

September 2016

DHS will accelerate the deployment of capabilities under the Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation program. Phase 2 of the program -- dealing with access control and authentication -- should be deployed by the end of fiscal 2016. The first phase of the program -- focused on endpoint security and security monitoring -- now covers 97 percent of agencies.