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December 27, 2013
1:04 pm

Last week, I was in Mexico City where I joined U.S. Ambassador Anthony Wayne and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Acting Commissioner Thomas Winkowski for the launch of Mexico’s new trusted traveler program—Programa Viajero Confiable. Mexico’s Tourism Under Secretary Jose Salvador Sanchez Estrada, Tax Commissioner Aristóteles Núñez Sánchez and National Immigration Institute Commissioner Ardelio Vargas presided over the event. 

This launch is an important example of the continuing efforts of the U.S-Mexico 21st Century Border Management Initiative and the High Level Economic Dialogue to deepen engagement to facilitate legitimate trade and travel between our two countries.

Viajero Confiable is a trusted traveler program similar to CBP’s Global Entry.  These programs improve the ability for each of our countries to quickly process pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival at major airports. Since 2010, more than 40,000 Mexican citizens have taken the opportunity to enroll in CBP’s Global Entry, and now U.S. citizens will be able to enroll in Viajero Confiable, further enhancing travel and trade between our two countries, while maintaining the highest standards of security. In fact, at the conclusion of the ceremony, I was proud to become to the first American enrolled in Viajero Confiable.

The launching of Viajero Confiable provides the opportunity for U.S. citizens to expedite their international travel into Mexico and marks an important example of ongoing and unprecedented cooperation between our two countries in security and economic competitiveness matters. 

Working in tandem, Global Entry and Viajero Confiable will break down barriers to cross-border travel, create new opportunities to increase tourism between our countries, and build a business-friendly environment that strengthens our nations’ economic competitiveness.

DHS and Mexican officials participate in a panel discussion.

From left: CBP Acting Commissioner Winkowski, Assistant Secretary Bersin, Mexican Tourism Under Secretary Estrada, and U.S. Ambassador Wayne

For more information on the 21st Century Border Management Initiative, visit www.dhs.gov/21centuryborder

December 23, 2013
11:58 am

Dr. Phyllis Schneck, Deputy Under Secretary for Cybersecurity, National Protection and Programs Directorate

Flat Amber visits DHS’s NCCIC, a 24-hour cyber situational awareness, incident response, and management center.

Flat Amber visits DHS’s National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center, a 24-hour cyber situational awareness, incident response, and management center.

The Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Stop.Think.Connect. campaign is joining the Flat Stanley Project to help kids learn about the importance of cybersecurity. By downloading and using the Flat Stanley App, kids will be able to create their own “Flat Stanley” or “Flat Stella” character and send it on a tour of the Internet to learn about staying safe online and helping spread the word about cybersecurity.

The Flat Stanley App can be useful for kids, parents and teachers to start a discussion about online safety, particularly during the holiday break from school when many children will be using computers, tablets or smart phones.

With kids spending more time than ever before on the Internet and social media, the partnership with the Flat Stanley Project allows DHS to further its efforts to raise cybersecurity awareness among young Americans.

Here are a few simple tips for kids will find on the app to help them remember to stay safe online:

  • Be careful about what information you share online and always ask an adult first
  • Don’t talk to strangers online and never agree to meet in person. Tell a parent or another adult you trust if a stranger contacts you in a chat room or through email or text message
  • Avoid sharing your passwords with anyone other than your parents
  • Don’t open emails or download attachments from strangers
  • Keep your personal information private; if something seems too good to be true, then it probably is
  • Treat others online like you want to be treated   

For more information about how to access the Flat Stanly App visit www.flatstanley.com. To learn about what DHS is doing to keep kids safe online and for other cybersecurity tips, please visit http://www.dhs.gov/stopthinkconnect.

 

December 19, 2013
2:08 pm

Posted by: Amy Pope and Ricardo Zuniga

Editors Note: This blog was originally posted on the White House blog on December 19, 2013.

Today the United States and Canada released the 2013 Implementation Report on the Beyond the Border Initiative. The report highlights the significant progress we have made over the last year to enhance economic cooperation and to address threats before they reach our common border. Our two countries are doing all we can to make trade and travel easier and less expensive, supporting economic competiveness and prosperity, while partnering to keep our communities safe. 

Since President Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Harper announced the Beyond the Border Declaration in 2011, we have worked together to benefit residents, travelers, and industry in both countries while enhancing security, trade and travel facilitation, critical infrastructure protection, and emergency management.  We are jointly collaborating before goods or travelers even arrive at the border, embracing a perimeter security approach where possible.

For example, this year, under the “cleared once, accepted twice” principle, both countries have started to rely on the other’s offshore inspections of marine shipments to reduce the need for re-inspection at the land border. Also, the U.S. truck cargo pre-inspection pilot in Surrey, British Columbia, tested new approaches for conducting screening at the land border. We are building on these accomplishments to complete preclearance negotiations for all transportation modes. Each of these initiatives helps goods move securely and more quickly across our shared border.

We are also successfully using the NEXUS trusted traveler program to benefit industry, travelers and our two governments. In the last year, membership in the NEXUS trusted traveler program grew by approximately 50 percent. Program participants save time and receive an expanded set of benefits when traveling. At the land border, Canada opened additional NEXUS lanes to complement the existing U.S. investments and to expedite the border clearance process. At airports and in marine reporting locations, access to expedited passenger screening lines at designated locations in both countries and access to NEXUS and Global Entry trusted traveler kiosks facilitates the border clearance process and allows our border agencies to redirect their resources to unknown travelers.

Going forward, both countries are committed to building on these shared accomplishments to achieve the vision of our President and the Canadian Prime Minister. We intend to upgrade infrastructure at priority border crossings, implement a single window for border transactions, and harmonize trusted trader programs between our two countries. We will continue to pursue creative and effective solutions to truly go “Beyond the Border.”

For more information on Beyond the Border, visit www.dhs.gov/beyond-the-border.

Amy Pope is Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Transborder Security at the National Security Council. Ricardo Zuniga is Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Western Hemisphere Affairs at the National Security Council.

December 18, 2013
9:31 am

Earlier this week, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced the next phase of an exciting program for our nation’s future cyber professionals. The Secretary’s Honors Program (SHP) Cyber Student Volunteer Initiative, a student volunteer program designed specifically for college students, began accepting applications for its 2014 class. With more than 100 unpaid student volunteer assignments available in over 60 locations across the country, the program offers students an opportunity to learn and support the cybersecurity work performed by DHS’ cybersecurity workforce.

DHS actively collaborates and shares information with public and private sector partners every day to respond to and coordinate mitigation in the face of attempted disruptions to the Nation’s critical cyber and communications networks and to reduce adverse impacts on critical network systems.

The SHP Cyber Student Volunteer Initiative, created in April 2013 by former Secretary Janet Napolitano, has been expanded to new DHS offices and locations, giving students with a variety of backgrounds and skills the chance to learn about the wide range of DHS cybersecurity responsibilities, and gain invaluable hands-on experience. 

Participating DHS offices and components in the program include the U. S. Secret Service, the U.S. Coast Guard, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), the DHS Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) computer forensics labs, and state and major urban area fusion centers through DHS’ Office of Intelligence and Analysis. 

Student volunteers will work alongside DHS cybersecurity professionals on a range of projects to support our cybersecurity mission. Among other exciting duties, participants will analyze cyber threats at state and major urban area fusion centers; research virtual currency with Secret Service agents; and assist with decoding files of interest for forensic analysis at ICE labs. They will support Information Assurance awareness training at the Coast Guard; help with network diagnostics and incident response at TSA; and support DHS’ network security efforts through OCIO.  With assignments beginning in the spring of 2014 and lasting throughout the summer, student volunteers will learn critical skills they can use to succeed in their future careers.  

The 2014 SHP Cyber Student Volunteer Initiative is the latest in our efforts to develop a workforce equipped to respond to the constantly evolving cyber threats facing our nation. DHS is proud to offer these opportunities to students around the country, and is committed to creating programs to cultivate the next generation of cyber talent.  We encourage students to apply by January 3, and look forward to welcoming the 2014 class next spring.

UPDATE, January 13: The deadling for applications have been extended to January 17, 2014. Learn more about and apply for the SHP Cyber Student Volunteer Initiative here.

December 17, 2013
11:01 am

The Department of Homeland Security is proud to welcome Luke J. McCormack as the new Chief Information Officer (CIO).  As the CIO, Mr. McCormack will lead and oversee the department’s continuing efforts to implement information technology enhancements and security.  The Department is strongly committed to ensuring it has the IT capabilities it needs to meet the challenges across the homeland security mission space.

Coming from the Department of Justice (DOJ) where he was the Deputy Assistant Attorney General for  Information Resources and the CIO, he brings a wealth of federal service as well as diverse experience in the private sector. 

Prior to his tenure at DOJ, Mr. McCormack served as the Immigration and Customs Enforcement CIO and held several other senior homeland security IT management positions from 1999 to 2012 including in U.S. Customs and Border Protection and its legacy agency U.S. Customs.  His private sector positions included management roles with MCI, Ford Aerospace and a smaller minority-owned firm.

Mr. McCormack is a two-time Fed 100 award winner and has been the recipient of the Presidential Rank Award for Meritorious Executive and the Department of Homeland Security’s Secretary’s Silver Medal.

Mr. McCormack holds an MBA from the Smith School, University of Maryland, and holds key certifications from Columbia University and the National Defense University.

December 13, 2013
4:45 pm

Today, Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Rand Beers officiated the ceremonial swearing in of Dr. Huban Gowadia as Director of the Department of Homeland Security’s Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO).

Under Dr. Gowadia’s leadership, DNDO will continue to develop nuclear detection capabilities, measure detector system performance, ensure effective response to detection alarms, conduct transformational research and development, and coordinate the improvement of technical nuclear forensics capabilities across the U.S. Government.  Prior to this role, Dr. Gowadia served in DNDO as Acting Director from 2012 to 2013, Deputy Director from 2010 to 2012, Assistant Director of the Mission Management Directorate from 2007 to 2010, and Assistant Director for Assessments from 2005 to 2007. 

Before joining DNDO, Dr. Gowadia led the DHS Science & Technology Directorate Countermeasures Test Beds as Program Executive from 2003 to 2005.  Dr. Gowadia also worked as Checkpoint Program Manager with the Transportation Security Administration from 2001 to 2003 and as an engineer with the Federal Aviation Administration from 2000 to 2001.

Dr. Gowadia received a Bachelor of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Alabama and a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from the Pennsylvania State University. 

The Domestic Nuclear Detection Office is a jointly staffed agency within the Department of Homeland Security. It is the primary entity in the U.S. government for implementing domestic nuclear detection efforts for a managed and coordinated response to radiological and nuclear threats, as well as integration of federal nuclear forensics programs. For more information, please visit http://www.dhs.gov/dndo.

December 12, 2013
1:49 pm

Posted by Rafael Borras, Acting Deputy Secretary

This year, the Department of Homeland Security reached a major goal by achieving a clean audit opinion of the Department’s financial statements by an independent auditor.  Simply put, the clean audit is in line with our ultimate goal to increase transparency and accountability for the taxpayer resources entrusted to the Department.                                   

This benchmark comes just ten years after DHS was established.  Financial managers worked together to integrate the policies and practices of 22 separate agencies into one department. Our talented and dedicated workforce came together as “One DHS,” implementing strong policies and business practices, and resolving complicated financial management issues leading to the achievement of a clean audit opinion.  The effort has significantly improved the overall health of DHS financial management capabilities, driven by strong leadership commitment and partnerships within the Department.

In order to achieve a clean audit opinion, DHS worked across the entire Department to complete a comprehensive inventory process of its property for the financial statements, with many components cataloguing material that existed long before we were one Department. For example, the U.S. Coast Guard, supported by teams from other DHS Components, dedicated resources and progressively improved reporting for its broad portfolio of assets.  This enterprise-wide approach made it possible for the Department to account for an additional $8 billion in property, which was the last factor we needed to earn a clean audit.                                                                                              

Thanks to the dedicated expertise of our department-wide financial management team and the commitment of the department’s leaders, DHS has built a sturdy foundation of sustainable practices that will support our operations for years to come. As we work every day to meet our Homeland Security mission, we will continue the work of improving financial management across the Department, while remaining responsible stewards of every homeland security dollar.

November 29, 2013
1:18 pm

Posted by NPPD Acting Assistant Secretary for Cybersecurity Roberta Stempfley

On Monday, millions of Americans will log on to their computers, tablets or smartphones in search of discounts and deals as part of Cyber Monday. Online retailers from across the country now participate in Cyber Monday.  Unfortunately, so do cyber criminals and hackers, who are seeking to exploit unwary shoppers for their credit card and financial information.

With the increasing threat of cyber scams and other online shopping fraud, it is important for everyone to practice safe online behavior on Cyber Monday, throughout the holidays, and every day.

Here are some simple cybersecurity tips can help protect your personal information and transactions on Cyber Monday and throughout the holiday season:

  • Connect with care. Avoid doing any online shopping on unsecure wireless networks, such as places with public and free Wi-Fi. Do your online shopping at home, and make sure your home wireless network is password protected.
  • Be cautious online. Do not click on suspicious links or download items from unknown sources.
  • Pay attention to website URLs. Malicious websites may look identical to a legitimate site, but the URL may use a variation in spelling or a different domain (for example, the malicious site may use .net instead of .com). Also, look in the address box for https:// before entering any personal or credit card information. The “s” means secure. Unlike http:// URLs, https:// tells you that the site uses encryption to transmit your information over the Internet. 
  • Set strong passwords. Make sure your passwords are complex and unique to each account. Change your passwords often, and don’t set passwords that will be easy for cyber criminals to guess, such as “password.” A good rule of thumb is to create passwords with eight characters or more that use a combination of numbers, letters, and symbols.
  • Don’t believe everything you see. While many retailers are offering great deals on Cyber Monday, there will also be deals that are just too good to be true. Before you buy that new tablet for only $50, be sure to shop only on the websites of trusted retailers, and avoid shopping through pop-up ads or unfamiliar websites.
  • Use a credit card. There are laws that limit your liability for fraudulent credit card charges. You may not have the same level of protection when using a debit card.
  • Keep a record of your order. Retain all documentation from the order in case your purchase doesn’t ship or you come across unauthorized charges on your bill.
  • Check your statements. Check your purchase records against your credit card and bank statements. If there are differences, report them immediately.
November 27, 2013
3:49 pm

Posted by John Cohen, Principal Deputy Under Secretary for Intelligence and Analysis and Counterterrorism Coordinator

Every day, malls around the country work closely with DHS, FBI and state and local law enforcement to keep shoppers safe. This year, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), is partnering with a number of communities across the state of New Hampshire as part of our If You See Something, Say Something™ campaign and displaying materials encouraging shoppers to report suspicious activity to local authorities.

At the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), homeland security begins with hometown security. We’re all safer when everyone is alert and engaged, and that’s what the Department’s nationwide If You See Something, Say Something™ public awareness campaign is all about.  Currently, DHS partners with a number of shopping centers, including the Mall of America, Walmart, Simon Property Group, and the Building Owners and Managers Association, to raise public awareness of indicators of terrorism and terrorism-related crime, and to emphasize the importance of reporting suspicious activity to the proper local law enforcement authorities.

DHS, in partnership with the FBI, regularly communicates with our partners in federal, state, and local government, as well as in the private sector, about the threats facing our Nation. As part of this ongoing engagement, DHS works with the retail and shopping center industries to enhance security and increase preparedness. DHS also participates in training exercises with our retail industry partners to establish readiness while providing support and resources to their ongoing security operations. 

Along with our partnership with the retail industry, DHS and the FBI continue to work together with the commercial facilities sector to increase the preparedness and resilience of public spaces.  DHS offers a broad set of tools to help our law enforcement and private sector partners prepare for and mitigate potential threats, from our online active shooter portal to a recently announced pilot program that will provide local law enforcement with a platform for active shooter training.

We have seen the value of public vigilance in thwarting terrorism and crime time and again, so remember: if you see something that doesn’t look right, report it to local authorities. When we each do our part, we are working together to keep our nation safe, one hometown at a time.

For more information about the If You See Something, Say Something™ campaign, visit here.

November 26, 2013
4:24 pm

Posted by Lt. Stephanie Young, U.S. Coast Guard

Editor's Note: This blog was originally posted on Compass, the official blog of the U.S. Coast Guard, on November 26, 2013.

 

Petty Officer 1st Class Justin Pearl puts the finishing touches on the pumpkin and pecan pie. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

Coast Guard food service specialists serve in approximately 370 units worldwide. The keep the Coast Guard fleet ready and able to perform the service’s missions.

As many Americans gather together with family and loved ones on Thanksgiving, we thought there was no one better to turn to for advice on preparing the perfect meal than our own food service specialists. Yesterday we shared the recipe for some Thanksgiving Day sides. Today, we’re sharing the recipe for a delicious pumpkin and pecan pie topped with maple-bourbon Chantilly cream.

 

Pumpkin Puree

2 “pie” pumpkins

Remove stem and cut in half. Remove the seeds and stringy innards. Place open side down on a sheet tray and loosely cover with foil, roast at 375 degrees for about an hour or until you can easily pierce with a fork. Scrape the inside of the cooked pumpkin and discard the skin. Puree in a food processor and cool.

 

Pumpkin and pecan pie

½ cup light brown sugar, firmly packed

½ teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

¼ teaspoon ground ginger

2 cups fresh cooked, pureed pumpkin

¼ cup roasted and chopped pecans

¼ cup light corn syrup

2 eggs, lightly beaten

2 tablespoons melted butter

½ cup evaporated milk

½ cup milk, scalded

egg white

1 unbaked pie shell, 9-inch

Mix sugar, salt and spices. Add pumpkin, pecans, then corn syrup, eggs, butter, evaporated milk and the hot milk. Brush bottom of the pie crust with egg white. Pour pumpkin filling mixture into the shell and bake at 375 deg. for 25 to 35 minutes. A knife should come out clean when inserted in center.

 

Bourbon maple Chantilly cream

1 Half pint heavy whipping cream

2 Tbsp. maple syrup

1 Tbsp. bourbon

1/8 cup of powdered sugar

Whip cream at high speed until soft peaks form. Add bourbon, maple and powdered sugar and whip until medium peaks form.

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