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July 28, 2015
1:00 pm

Last week, the Department of Homeland Security and the Chemical Sector Coordinating Council co-hosted the 9th Annual Chemical Sector Security Summit in Alexandria, Va. More than 500 government and industry stakeholders attended sessions that focused on strengthening chemical security and resilience across the country. The annual summit  brought together industry experts, owners, operators, and government officials to share best practices, lessons learned, and identify ways to enable risk-informed decision-making. 

Highlights from this year’s summit included a keynote address from Amy Pope, Deputy Homeland Security Advisor and Deputy Assistant to the President at the National Security Council, where she discussed the vital role of the private sector in national and homeland security issues, both as owners and operators of critical infrastructure and as a fundamental part of the Nation’s economy.

The dynamic threat environment was a focus of day two, with presenters from the DHS Office of Intelligence & Analysis and the Industrial Control Systems Cyber Emergency Response Team (ICS-CERT) briefing participants on homegrown violent extremism, domestic terrorism, and cyber threats to industrial control systems. These briefings set the stage for the 2015 Chemical Sector Security Plan, which underscores the ongoing collaboration between government and industry to ensure chemical facilities are secure and resilient. The plan features voluntary risk management actions, information sharing activities, international engagement, and training and exercises. These initiatives and preparedness efforts describe actionable measures to manage risks and mitigate disruptions.

With the multi-year authorization established by the Protecting and Securing Chemical Facilities from Terrorist Attacks Act (CFATS Act of 2014), many of this year’s sessions featured discussions on the current success and continued maturation of the CFATS program, including a CFATS update by David Wulf, Director of the Infrastructure Compliance Security Division, which leads the implementation of the program. CFATS is an important part of our nation’s counterterrorism efforts as we work with our industry stakeholders to keep dangerous chemicals out of the hands of those who wish to do us harm. Since the CFATS program was created, DHS has actively engaged with industry to identify and work with high-risk chemical facilities to ensure they have security measures in place to reduce the risks associated with the possession of chemicals of interest. While there is still work to be done, DHS has approved site security plans for nearly two-thirds of the highest-risk regulated facilities.

We continue to take critical steps in bringing together public and private stakeholders with a vested interest in reducing the risks associated with the handling and storage of chemicals. A panel of representatives from the National Security Council, DHS, Environmental Protection Agency and Occupational Safety and Health Administration, highlighted this shared commitment and discussed progress against the Executive Order on Chemical Facility Safety and Security, focusing on how Federal partners have worked to strengthen community planning and preparedness; enhance federal coordination; improve data management; modernize policies and regulations; and incorporate stakeholder feedback and develop best practices.

This year's Summit once again brought government and industry together to share a diverse array of voluntary programs and resources in a way that I believe will lead to further progress and a safer nation.  I want to thank all involved for a valuable and productive summit, and I call on government, industry, and individuals to continue to collaborate and innovate as we celebrate successes and confront new challenges.

July 24, 2015
1:11 pm

On July 26, 2015 we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) – the landmark civil rights law that broke down barriers to access and equality for individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life.  The ADA’s impact is far reaching and extends to employment, schools, transportation, and a range of public and private services and programs.

At the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), equal opportunity and full inclusion is critical to fulfilling our core missions.  Whether traveling through an airport, crossing into our country at a border, becoming a naturalized citizen, or rebuilding following a disaster, DHS is committed to providing equal access for individuals with disabilities in our workforce and our programs and activities.  The Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL) leads our efforts with a focus on:

  • Recruitment We utilize Schedule A Hiring Authority, the Operation Warfighter program, and the Wounded Warrior program, among others, to assist in recruiting and hiring individuals and veterans with disabilities.  We are pleased to have more than 11,000 employees with disabilities contributing to the homeland security mission each day.
  • Accessibility – The DHS Disability Access Working Group shares and coordinates strategies for effective communication, program and physical accessibility, and reasonable accommodations.  Accessibility improvements are underway at the DHS headquarters, which include installing additional ramps and curb cuts, enhancing automatic doors, and improving lighting and signage in buildings and on the grounds.
  • Integration – DHS policy and implementing mechanisms ensure nondiscrimination for individuals with disabilities served by our programs.  With guidance and oversight from CRCL, this year each DHS component will designate a disability access coordinator; initiate a self-evaluation of their programs and activities; and develop and implement a plan to strengthen integration and compliance with disability laws. 

Additionally, we are proud of the work that is being accomplished across DHS components that include but are not limited to: 

  • TSA provides information and resources on screening to assist travelers with disabilities through its TSA Cares program. TSA also delivers training and technical assistance to its frontline workforce on successful interactions with individuals with disabilities.
  • The DHS Office of Accessible Systems and Technology provides IT-related reasonable accommodations and support for DHS employees with disabilities and the public.  It also operates the DHS Accessibility Helpdesk, which provides technical assistance to employees and customers.

Learn more about the Department’s work and progress by visiting our Disability Access webpage.   

July 24, 2015
12:31 pm

ribbon cutting

PHOTO OF THE WEEK: DHS Deputy Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director Sara Saldaña, and ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Executive Associate Director Peter Edge cut the ribbon on the newly expanded ICE Cyber Crimes Center in Fairfax, VA. The expanded center will provide ICE HSI with enhanced operational and training capabilities, helping to meet the growing cyber mission of the agency and fight cybercrime.

Official DHS Photo by Josh Denmark | Download High-Resolution Image (1200 x 800)

July 23, 2015
3:37 pm

Authors: Dr. Phyllis Schneck, Deputy Under Secretary for Cybersecurity and Communications
Dr. Andy Ozment, Assistant Secretary for Cybersecurity and Communications
Richard Struse, Chief Advanced Technology Officer, National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center

We are pleased to announce that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has transitioned the STIXTM and TAXIITM specifications for the automated exchange of cybersecurity data to the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS).

The selection of OASIS guarantees that the entire family of STIX/TAXII specifications will always be freely available to anyone around the world. OASIS is a non-profit consortium that drives the development, convergence, and adoption of open standards for the Internet.

The transition, led by DHS, brought together a record number of organizations from around the world to participate in the new OASIS Cyber Threat Intelligence (CTI) Technical Committee. The CTI Technical Committee will oversee development and promote adoption of standards that enable cyber threat intelligence to be analyzed and shared among trusted partners and communities. This work will support automated information analysis and sharing for cyber security situational awareness, real-time network defense, and sophisticated threat characterization and response.

The CTI Technical Committee is chaired by Richard Struse, Chief Advanced Technology Officer, of DHS’s National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center (NCCIC).   The impact of this work will be the prevalence of cyber threat indicators being shared and correlated worldwide in near-real-time, making networks and electronic devices safer and smarter.

This transition is the culmination of three years of work in collaboration with the private sector to define, develop, and implement a robust set of technical specifications to advance the state of the practice in computer network defense. From the inception of these efforts, DHS has maintained that STIX and TAXII would be transitioned to an internationally-recognized standards development organization once the specifications reached an appropriate level of maturity. That day has come, and the transition to OASIS represents an exciting next step in the continued advancement and evolution of STIX and TAXII.

OASIS has an excellent track record in successfully transitioning accepted technical specifications to voluntary consensus standards and in recognizing and building on that existing work. In addition, the global membership of OASIS mirrors the diversity of the STIX/TAXII community and includes a wide variety of government entities, technology vendors, academic institutions, and end-user organizations that have been so critical to the success of the specifications. The transition of STIX and TAXII to OASIS provides greater transparency and stakeholder participation in the development process which will help ensure the stability and continuing viability of STIX and TAXII as true international standards. These changes have the potential to significantly increase adoption and use of STIX and TAXII and thereby strengthen global cybersecurity practices.

This transition allows DHS to concentrate our efforts on ensuring the widest and most effective implementations of STIX and TAXII to achieve our mission. Through the CTI Technical Committee and other mechanisms, DHS will continue to play an active role and support the development of critical documentation, tools and application programming interfaces.

The only thing that is changing is that the direction of STIX and TAXII will now be in the hands of a robust global community committed to its success. We are confident that this transition marks the beginning of an even more vibrant and successful cybersecurity ecosystem built on STIX and TAXII that will yield significant improvements in the overall security of our cyber infrastructure.

July 22, 2015
2:31 pm

Today, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Blue Campaign marks five years of collective effort to end the heinous crime of human trafficking in the United States. During this short period, the DHS Blue Campaign has served as the unified voice for the Department’s efforts to combat human trafficking, bringing together the resources and capabilities across DHS to protect victims and bring traffickers to justice.  Of course, we do not do this alone.  We work closely with our governmental and law enforcement partners, as well as those service providers and non-governmental organizations that work each day to assist victims of human trafficking.  Ending human trafficking in the United States requires the collective resolve of all corners of our nation, and we are grateful to work alongside our committed partners in this effort. 

blue campaign

Blue Campaign Chair Maria Odom, Deputy Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, U.S. Representative Ted Yoho, and White House National Security Council Senior Director Alice Hill participate in the commemoration. Not pictured: U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar.

To date, the DHS Blue Campaign, through DHS components such as the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, and Customs and Border Protection, has provided training to federal human trafficking task forces, more than 10,000 state, local, and campus law enforcement professionals, over 2,000 foreign law enforcement partners, and approximately 50,000 airline employees. These are all professionals on the front lines each day who can help identify victims of human trafficking.

Over the past five years, the Blue Campaign has become a national leader on anti-trafficking training, creating and delivering high quality human trafficking training across the country for federal, state, local, tribal, territorial, and campus law enforcement.  We have teamed up with our public and private sector friends and partners around the country to ensure that important information about human trafficking is being shared with individuals, families, and communities, from truck stops along our nation’s highways all the way to the Super Bowl.  Finally, we have implemented a nationwide public awareness campaign, displaying awareness materials in 13 major U.S. airports; creating and sharing tools for law enforcement, educators, judges, and health care professionals; and airing our Public Service Announcement around the country over 50,000 times.  Our goal is to better equip the American public to recognize and report the indicators of human trafficking.  Just this week, DHS announced a new partnership with South Carolina’s Office of the Attorney General, and we continue to look for more partners in our shared fight to end human trafficking in the United States.

Yesterday, we were privileged to be joined by U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar, U.S. Representative Ted Yoho, White House National Security Council Senior Director Alice Hill, and Blue Campaign Chair Maria Odom, to commemorate the five year milestone of the DHS Blue Campaign at an event in Washington, D.C.

Yesterday’s event was an opportunity to celebrate the Blue Campaign’s fifth anniversary and recognize the hard work of those committed to the fight against human trafficking.  More importantly, however, it was an opportunity to recommit ourselves to this important effort, and chart the course for the next five years of our work.  Attendees participated in small group discussions on private sector outreach, law enforcement training, public awareness, research and technology, and interagency collaboration.

blue campaign

Judge and White House National Security Council Senior Director Alice Hill founded the Blue Campaign in 2010

One important aspect of the work ahead of us will be to implement the recently-enacted Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act.  With passage of this bill, Congress handed to us a powerful tool, requiring that DHS personnel receive training on how to deter, detect, and report instances of potential human trafficking.  Secretary Johnson and I are committed to fulfilling the promise of this new law.  We will do so quickly and comprehensively, and are grateful to our Congressional partners for their unwavering commitment to ending human trafficking in the United States.             

In five years, the DHS Blue Campaign has made great strides in our efforts to combat human trafficking. I am humbled by the great work of the men and women of DHS, and across the government, who combat this terrible crime each day. As we forge ahead, we will continue to expand our growing network of partners, train more law enforcement, further raise public awareness, and ultimately identify and rescue more victims of human trafficking.

There is much more to be done and we cannot do this alone; we need your help. I encourage you to visit to learn more, get involved, and join us in the fight against human trafficking.

July 20, 2015
12:40 pm

“We express our condolences to the families of those members of the United States Marine Corps who were killed.”

Following the incident in Chattanooga, Tennessee last week, Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson Expressed his condolences and the condolences of the Department of Homeland Secuirty to the families of the members of the Marine Corps who were killed. Secretary Johnson also stated that the department was increasing security at certain federal facilities out of, an abundance of caution.  The safety and security of this nation and its people is the highest priority of this Department. You can read Secretary Johnson’s full statement here.

Deputy Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas joined the L.A. Dodgers to celebrate Cuban American Heritage night, throwing out the first pitch at last Sunday night’s baseball game. Originally from Havana, the Deputy Secretary is the highest ranking Cuban-American official currently serving in the Obama Administration. While in LA, Deputy Secretary Mayorkas met with DHS employees to express his thanks for their continued hard work and dedication in defense of the nation.

On July 14-16, Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Mayorkas traveled to Israel.  He met with his counterparts in the Israeli government to discuss many  homeland security issues including cybersecurity, law enforcement cooperation, immigration, and aviation security. During his meetings, Deputy Secretary Mayorkas underscored the importance of working with Israel to address shared security challenges and reiterated the Department’s commitment to improving aviation security and to sharing information with international law enforcement and our counterterrorism allies to ensure collective global security. On July 16, Deputy Secretary Mayorkas participated in a signing ceremony in Tel Aviv to promote cooperation on cybersecurity with Israel and joint cyber research and development.

On July 17-18, Deputy Secretary Mayorkas continued his overseas trip, with a visit to Stockholm. Deputy Secretary Mayorkas met with Swedish counterparts to discuss potentially expanding U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Preclearance operations to Stockholm Arlanda Airport. He also highlighted  the continued importance of working together with partner nations, like Sweden, to strengthen our security cooperation while facilitating lawful trade and travel.

On Tuesday the 14th, Secretary Johnson testified in a hearing entitled “Oversight of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security” before the House Committee on the Judiciary in Washington, D.C.

Secretary Johnson on Thursday traveled to Chicago on Thursday to meet with local community leaders to discuss the Department’s efforts with local law enforcement to keep communities safe.


July 18, 2015
6:40 am

Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security joined the Los Angeles Dodger to celebrate Cuban Heritage Day

PHOTO OF THE WEEK: Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security joined the Los Angeles Dodgers to celebrate Cuban Heritage Day on Sunday at the Dodgers Stadium, where he threw out the ceremonial first pitch. Born in Havana, Mayorkas and his family fled Cuba as political refugees, eventually resettling in Los Angeles.

Photo courtesy of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ official photographer Jon Soo Hoo | Download High-Resolution Image (1190 x 1488)

July 13, 2015
11:55 am

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) began last week by honoring the U.S. Secret Service’s 150th anniversary. On July 5, 1865, the Secret Service was created by President Abraham Lincoln. DHS celebrated the Secret Service’s history of heroic service with a 150th Anniversary Reception and a congratulatory video message from Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson.

This week, Secretary Johnson also welcomed former U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) Vice Commandant Peter Neffenger as the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Administrator on Monday, July 6 during a ceremonial swearing in ceremony.. TSA Administrator Neffenger was officially sworn in on Saturday, July 4.

Another important DHS event this week occurred on Thursday, July 8, when Secretary Johnson delivered remarks entitled “Securing the .gov” at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. During his remarks, Secretary Johnson discussed the role of DHS in promoting national cybersecurity, both within government agencies and the private sector, and called on Congress to pass more extensive cyber legislation. He additionally focused on the issue of increasing cybersecurity while maintaining established freedoms, saying, “Cybersecurity must also be a balance between the basic security of online information and the ability to communicate with and benefit from the networked world.”

Also on Thursday, July 8, Secretary Johnson and Deputy Secretary Mayorkas met with members of the American Jewish Community in Washington D.C. They engaged in a roundtable discussion to envision collective approaches to countering violent extremism and later emphasized the Department’s priority of collaborating with local leaders to safeguard communities.

July 10, 2015
1:30 pm

U.S. Secret Service Director Joseph P. Clancy and Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh C. Johnson pause to reflect on the heroic actions of our Secret Service men and women lost in the line of duty

PHOTO OF THE WEEK: U.S. Secret Service Director Joseph P. Clancy and Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh C. Johnson pause to reflect on the heroic actions of our Secret Service men and women lost in the line of duty,  during the Secret Service Day of Remembrance Memorial Ceremony at the National Law Enforcement Officers  Memorial. This week, the Secret Service is celebrating its 150th anniversary of tradition and service to the nation.

Official DHS photo by Jetta Disco | Download High-Resolution Image (3936 x 2624)

July 9, 2015
4:33 pm

Recently, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has advanced several cybersecurity information sharing initiatives to help the private sector better secure itself against cyber threats. We’ve hosted an Information Sharing and Analysis Organization (ISAO) Workshop in Boston, June 9, expanded our Enhanced Cybersecurity Services (ECS) program, grown our Cyber Information Sharing and Collaboration Program (CISCP), and we’re deploying near-real-time information sharing capabilities. As exciting as these activities are, I’d like to step back to first principles and discuss why information sharing is so important. I will then explain how our information sharing programs work together to help our private sector customers achieve a common goal. 

Right now, our cybersecurity cost model is broken. Adversaries can often use the same attack against thousands of entities. It’s cheap for them to use the same tool and keep trying until they succeed. And eventually, they do. However, if the first targeted organization shares the identifying characteristics of the attack with all of its partners, who in turn share with their partners, even if the adversary’s first attack was successful, the rest of its targets will have the knowledge they need to protect themselves. In this model, the adversary must craft a unique attack method for each target and will experience significantly higher costs that may be unsustainable for all but the most sophisticated adversaries.

To achieve this goal, information must be shared widely and quickly. DHS is moving forward to make progress in both of these areas. We recently convened our first ISAO workshop, where participants from the private sector, academia, and government shared ideas and opinions about the challenges and opportunities associated with the creation of ISAOs. This perspective and input will be valuable as we implement Executive Order 13691: Promoting Private Sector Cybersecurity Information Sharing in the coming months.

ISAOs will allow organizations, regardless of what sector they fall under, to join together and share cybersecurity information with each other and DHS. As a result, ISAOs will significantly increase the breadth of the information sharing ecosystem. Cyber threat information will reach a far greater number of organizations, decreasing the likelihood that a single attack method will succeed against multiple targets.

Speed is equally as important as scale. If we can only share cyber threat information after the adversary has compromised an organization, we have not succeeded. Therefore, we are moving quickly to deploy Automated Indicator Sharing, which will allow organizations to share and receive cyber threat indicators in near- real-time, formatted to be used immediately for network defense (in a format known as STIX/TAXII). With Automated Indicator Sharing, cyber threat information can be shared and applied to network defenses before the adversary can launch an attack. Right now, the best way for an organization to participate in Automated Indicator Sharing is by joining our Cyber Information Sharing and Collaboration Program (CISCP). Along with Automated Indicator Sharing, CISCP provides participating companies with a number of other benefits, including analyst-to-analyst collaborations, detailed technical bulletins, and in-depth information exchanges.

Our goal at DHS is for all U.S. companies to participate in near-real-time information sharing, either directly or through an ISAO, to better protect their networks. Working together, we will make progress toward achieving this goal and reversing the cybersecurity cost model so that defenders move more quickly than our adversaries.


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