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May 16, 2014
5:34 pm

Posted by Chief Privacy Officer Karen Neuman

Deputy Secretary Mayorkas delivers remarks during an event commemorating the tenth anniversary of the DHS Privacy Office. Official DHS photo.

Earlier this week, the Department of Homeland Security commemorated the tenth anniversary of the DHS Privacy Office by hosting an event held at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Headquarters in Washington.

During the event, DHS leadership, current and former DHS privacy and FOIA staff, former Chief Privacy Officers, representatives from the White House, the DHS Data Privacy and Integrity Advisory Committee, the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, and stakeholders gathered to recognize the many achievements of the Privacy Office, as well as the important work of their counterparts at the Components. 

Deputy Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas delivered congratulatory remarks during the ceremony, recognizing the Privacy Office’s work over the past 10 years to ensure that robust privacy protections are firmly embedded into the lifecycle of Homeland Security programs and systems from the onset. Deputy Secretary Mayorkas also expressed his gratitude for the contributions of the Privacy Office to the Department’s , and underscoring that the nation is stronger because of our hard work. 

In addition to thanking and recognizing past and present DHS privacy and FOIA professionals, I discussed the challenges the office currently faces as it looks forward to its next decade, and our priorities and vision for the future. 

The threats we face are ever-evolving, and technology and how we use it may be part of the solution to countering those threats.  It is crucial for the Department to develop effective uses of information while being mindful of any potential privacy impact; cultivate new relationships while considering how notions of privacy might evolve; and take affirmative measures to protect privacy while explaining those protections to the public – all of which will make privacy and FOIA professionals essential to the missions of DHS.

It is my hope and expectation that in the course of decades to come, the Privacy Office and the Department as a whole will continue to be recognized for these efforts to preserve our values as well as we protect the homeland. 

Learn more about the DHS Privacy Office by visiting www.dhs.gov/privacy.

 

May 13, 2014
1:04 pm

Secretary Jeh Johnson, Deputy Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Tom Winkowski joined with leaders from ICE and across law enforcement to participate in the ICE Valor Memorial and Wreath Laying Ceremony at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial yesterday.

The ICE Valor Memorial and Wreath Laying Ceremony paid tribute to fallen law enforcement officers from ICE’s legacy agencies, the U.S. Customs Service and the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, as well as losses endured since ICE’s creation in 2003.

During the ceremony, Secretary Johnson spoke of his gratitude for the service and commitment of those who have died while serving ICE and its legacy agencies, and offered his deepest condolences for the losses that their families and friends have endured.

The Secretary laid a wreath on the memorial to honor those law enforcement officers who made the ultimate sacrifice to ensure the safety and security of others. Secretary Johnson also met with the family and friends of those honored and remembered during today’s ceremony as he viewed the Memorial Wall.

The ICE Valor Memorial and Wreath Laying Ceremony is part of National Police Week, held annually to honor the service and sacrifice of law enforcement professionals, including members of the Department of Homeland Security, who lost their lives in the line of duty. Throughout the week, Secretary Johnson and Deputy Secretary Mayorkas will participate in various events to mark the occasion and remember the law enforcement officers whom we have lost.

 

May 8, 2014
8:05 am

Secretary Johnson participates in the fourth annual Public Service Town Hall this morning beginning at 9:00 AM. This Town Hall event is part of Public Service Recognition Week, a weeklong celebration of the service and contributions that public servants make to our country every day.  

Watch the video here.

April 30, 2014
5:22 pm

America’s PrepareAthon! National  Day of Action is being held today, April 30, to provide a national focus for individuals, organizations, and communities to participate through drills, group discussions, and exercises to practice for relevant local hazards.

Across the nation, over five million people are participating in events to increase emergency preparedness and resilience through hazard-specific drills, group discussions and exercises. Secretary Johnson and Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Fugate encourage you to take part in America’s PrepareAthon!, a nationwide, community-based campaign for action to increase local preparedness and resilience through hazard-specific drills, group discussions, and exercises.

The goal of this new campaign is to increase the number of individuals who understand which disasters could happen in their community, know what to do to be safe and mitigate damage, take action to increase their preparedness, and participate in community resilience planning.

Research shows that communities are better prepared to withstand a disaster and can recover more quickly if the entire community is involved.

The America's PrepareAthon! campaign offers easy steps that you can take to get prepared now so you are able to take immediate action and recover more quickly during and after a disaster. These actions include:

  • Practicing going to your protective location if you live in tornado-prone areas
  • Signing up for local text alerts/warnings and downloading hazard-related apps to your smartphone
  • Gathering all of your important documents and keeping them in a safe place
  • Creating a family communications plan so that everyone knows how to reach each other and meet each other if separated during an emergency

While participating in PrepareAthon! events today,  we encourage you to share information about your PrepareAthon! events by using #PrepareAthon in your social media postings. We’re proud of you for taking action; it shows the spirit of individual and community preparedness is continuing to reach new heights.

We encourage you to learn more about how you can play a role in your community’s preparedness by visiting www.ready.gov/prepare.

April 24, 2014
5:51 pm

Posted by Deputy Under Secretary for Science and Technology Daniel Gerstein

Today, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) marks the tenth anniversary of its first university-based Center of Excellence, the National Center for Risk and Economic Analysis of Terrorism Events (CREATE), led by the University of Southern California. Today’s anniversary event held at the University of Southern California highlighted the use of science and technology to enhance the safety and security of our nation, the Center of Excellence Program, and the last decade of technology and innovation from CREATE.

The Department depends on the Centers of Excellence for innovative solutions to homeland security challenges, and our centers have become essential for the Department’s overall Research & Development goals.  As technology is developed, CREATE and other Centers of Excellence leverage their existing relationships with the DHS component agencies, as well as other state, local, and international partners to address homeland security challenges and further transition their work to an operational environment.

Centers of Excellence also play an essential role in molding and encouraging the scientific workforce of the future.  Today’s students will become the next generation of homeland security leaders, taking positions within DHS components, national laboratories, and other agencies with similar security missions. 

As CREATE marks one decade of research through our Centers of Excellence program, we recognize the commitment of these centers to both the economic and physical security of the nation.  Ongoing research at CREATE will include analyzing current and future catastrophic risks from emerging threat technologies, designing layered defenses against terrorism with risk analysis, and economy-wide modeling for the analysis of disruptive events—establishing CREATE as a leading research facility to provide the tools and information to support counterterrorism efforts.

April 18, 2014
11:45 pm

Unfortunately, Heartbleed has become a familiar term to many people across the country.  It is a serious vulnerability, a weakness in the widely-used OpenSSL encryption software that protects the electronic traffic on a large number of websites and in scores of devices. Although new computer “bugs” and malware crop up almost daily, this vulnerability is unusual in how widespread it is, it’s ease of use, the potentially damaging information it allows malicious actors to obtain, and the length of time before it was discovered.  As the administration has said, the Federal government was not aware of the vulnerability until it was made public in press reports.  

It is important to note that it takes time to address this issue properly.  As with the private sector, government agencies must analyze their systems to identify where they have the Heartbleed vulnerability, determine how to implement the appropriate response, and then ensure that they can implement the response without disrupting critical operations.  Finally, the scope and scale of this vulnerability may continue to evolve as researchers and companies discover new places or devices that may be susceptible. 

This analysis has informed how the Federal government has responded to this vulnerability since its public disclosure, working at an aggressive yet appropriate pace in our response and acting out of an abundance of caution.   Working with other agencies, we have:

  • Enabled our network defenses across the Executive branch to detect someone trying to use the exploit and in many cases to block those attempts
  • Begun scanning government networks for this vulnerability to ensure that we know where it exists
  • Issued technical alerts and mitigation steps through the our National Communications and Cybersecurity Integration Center
  • Engaged with our industry partners to discuss the threat posed by the vulnerability

As we conduct the scans of government systems and agencies conduct their own reviews, many government websites turn out to have never been vulnerable to Heartbleed because they did not use OpenSSL; in those cases, no further action is needed at this time.  However, in those cases where agencies determine that a website or system could have been vulnerable to Heartbleed, they are taking the same steps as the private sector:

  • Updating to secure versions of OpenSSL
  • Re-issuing certificates for the website
  • Requiring or asking users to reset their passwords, if the website permits users to login, and alerting users on a website’s homepage to this fact.
  • Reminding users not to use a new password on any site that has not clearly been patched.

We will continue to focus on this issue until government agencies have mitigated the vulnerability in their systems.  And we will continue to adapt our response if we learn about additional issues created by the vulnerability. The government remains committed to protecting any personally identifiable information it holds and to upholding high standards of cybersecurity.

Posted by Dr. Phyllis Schneck, Deputy Under Secretary of Homeland Security for Cybersecurity and Communications

April 16, 2014
1:41 pm
Posted by the TSA Blog Team
 
Travelers around the country are moving through airports with greater ease as a result of TSA Pre✓™, the expedited screening program that allows pre-approved travelers to leave on their shoes, light outerwear and belts and keep laptops in their case. TSA Pre✓™ is now at more than 115 U.S. airports and with nine air carriers (Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines, United Airlines, US Airways and Virgin America). But we have no intention of stopping there—we are looking for more opportunities to expand the TSA Pre✓™ population every day.

To date, tens of millions of passengers have enjoyed shorter screening times as a result of TSA Pre✓™.

Travelers interested in applying for TSA Pre✓™ should go here to begin the pre-enrollment process. All TSA Pre✓™ program applicants must then visit an application center— like the new center at Washington Dulles International Airport— in person to verify their identity and citizenship/immigration status as well as to provide biographical information, (e.g. name, date of birth, address, etc.) and fingerprints. You can find a full listing of the more than 200TSA Pre✓™ applications centers here. TSA Pre✓™ is just one way we are moving away from the one-size fits all security. But don’t just take our word for it.

Below is a sampling of what people across the country have been saying recently about TSA Pre✓™:
How do you like PreCheck? Share your feedback about your TSA Pre✓™ experience on Twitter by using the hashtag #TSAprecheck.
 
 
Follow @TSABlogTeam on Twitter and Instagram!
 
Editors Note: This blog was originally posted by TSA  on April 16.
 

 

April 11, 2014
7:52 am

Posted by NCCIC Director Larry Zelvin

Information sharing is a key part of the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) important mission to create shared situational awareness of potential cybersecurity vulnerabilities. DHS, through our National Cybersecurity & Communications Integration Center (NCCIC), actively collaborates with public and private sector partners every day to make sure they have the information and tools they need to protect the systems we all rely on.

When a cybersecurity industry report was published three days ago about a vulnerability known as “Heartbleed” – affecting websites, email, and instant messaging – that can potentially impact internet logins and personal information online by undermining the encryption process, the Department’s U.S.-Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) immediately issued an alert  to share actionable information with the public and suggested mitigation steps.  Subsequently, our Industrial Control System-Cyber Emergency Response Team (ICS-CERT) published information and reached out to vendors and asset owners to determine the potential vulnerabilities to computer systems that control essential systems – like critical infrastructure, user-facing, and financial systems.  The National Coordinating Center for Communications (NCC) also provided situational awareness to communications sector partners for their review and action. Importantly, the Federal government’s core citizen-facing websites are not exposed to risks from this cybersecurity threat. We are continuing to coordinate across agencies to ensure that all Federal government websites are protected from this threat.

While there have not been any reported attacks or malicious incidents involving this particular vulnerability confirmed at this time, it is still possible that malicious actors in cyberspace could exploit un-patched systems. That is why everyone has a role to play to ensuring our nation’s cybersecurity. We have been and continue to work closely with federal, state, local and private sector partners to determine any potential impacts and help implement mitigation strategies as necessary.

Today we’re also sharing some tips on steps you can take to protect your own personal cybersecurity and information online:

  • Many commonly used websites are taking steps to ensure they are not affected by this vulnerability and letting the public know. Once you know the website is secure, change your passwords.
  • Closely monitor your email accounts, bank accounts, social media accounts, and other online assets for irregular or suspicious activity, such as abnormal purchases or messages
  • After a website you are visiting has addressed the vulnerability, ensure that if it requires personal information such as login credentials or credit card information, it is secure with the HTTPS identifier in the address bar. Look out for the “s”, as it means secure.

Cybersecurity is a shared responsibility and when we take steps to ensure our own cyber safety, we are also helping to create a safer Internet for others.

For more cyber resources and tips, please visit www.dhs.gov/stopthinkconnect

April 9, 2014
11:32 am

Posted by Maria Odom, Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman and Chair of the DHS Blue Campaign

Today, Secretary of Homeland Security (DHS) Jeh Johnson joined key federal partners at the White House for a meeting of the Presidential Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons where he highlighted the work of the DHS Blue Campaign, announced new interagency partnerships and highlighted the Department’s ongoing efforts to combat this heinous crime.

During the meeting, Secretary Johnson discussed the Department’s  interagency engagement through the efforts of the Blue Campaign, and announced a new partnership with the Department of Education (ED)—working together to develop trafficking indicator training and other resources for school administrators, teachers, and staff.   DHS has also been working closely with the General Services Administration to display human trafficking awareness materials in government-owned buildings across the United States.

Over the past year, DHS has focused an unprecedented level of resources and engagement to combating human trafficking through a victim-centered approach . Identifying and rescuing victims, however, is only the first step to end human trafficking.

In 2013, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) opened nearly 1,025 cases related to human trafficking, many with the help of the public, resulting in 816 convictions and the identification of more than 330 trafficking victims. Through the ICE Victim Assistance Program, specialists ensure that human trafficking victims are not only rescued, but provided with referrals for medical, mental health and legal assistance, as well as referrals for long term immigration relief, case management and other services. 

DHS aims to provide support and assistance for immigrant victims of human trafficking.  U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services provides immigration relief in the form of T visas and U visas, allowing victims to remain in the United States and assist in the investigation or prosecution of the crime. These visas also provide a pathway to lawful permanent residence and permit certain family members to join them in the United States.

DHS and the Blue Campaign will continue our efforts to increase investigations and prosecutions of human traffickers, train more frontline law enforcement partners to recognize the indicators of human trafficking, and further improve victim services.

To learn more about DHS’ efforts to combat human trafficking and what you can do, visit www.dhs.gov/bluecampaign.

April 8, 2014
3:39 pm

Last week marked the 100th day in office for Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson. Tomorrow Secretary Johnson will host a Twitter chat to discuss what he has seen his first 100 days and highlight his priorities moving forward.

From travel to the southwest border, to meeting with international partners abroad on common homeland security issues, to his recent trip to Washington to view the ongoing response to the tragic mudslide last month, Secretary Johnson has been deeply engaged in the diverse missions of the Department. On top of all that, he also recently threw out the first pitch at Citifield.

Tomorrow he looks forward to discussing these efforts and answering your questions.

Here's how you can participate:

  • Starting now, ask questions Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson on Twitter using the hashtag #DHSchat.
  • On Wednesday, April 9, at 1:00 p.m. EDT Secretary Johnson will begin to answer your questions.
  • Follow the chat live on Twitter through the Department’s official Twitter account, @DHSgov and by following #DHSchat. Secretary Johnson’s responses will be tweeted from the @DHSgov account.

Be sure to follow @DHSgov on Twitter for the latest from the Department of Homeland Security and our component agencies. I hope you’ll join the conversation tomorrow at 1:00 PM Eastern.

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