Yesterday, I attended the Women in International Security conference, hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, to discuss one of the most urgent and important issues facing our nation—cybersecurity. In particular, I spoke about how DHS is building a cyber-workforce comprised of highly qualified, skilled, and innovative employees who reflect the diversity of our nation, and will enable us to meet our mission today, and in the future.
At DHS, we’re working to develop the next generation of leaders in cybersecurity while fostering an environment for talented staff to grow in this field. We are building strong cybersecurity career paths within the Department, and in partnership with other government agencies. We are also creating training and development opportunities to retain our most talented employees and ensure their professional development. In collaboration with the National Security Agency, we are strengthening the nation’s educational infrastructure by supporting Centers of Academic Excellence across the country.
In addition, we are extending the scope of cyber education beyond the federal workplace through the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education, involving students from kindergarten through post-graduate school. And we sponsor the U.S. Cyber Challenge, a program that works with academia and the private sector to identify and develop the best and brightest cyber talent to meet our nation’s growing and changing security needs.
We also just launched a new recruitment initiative for exceptional recent college graduates called “The Secretary’s Honors Program.”. Its goal is to recruit, retain, and develop exceptionally talented entry-level people to support the Department’s missions, including cyber. We also have begun implementing recommendations proposed by the Department’s Homeland Security Advisory Council Task Force on CyberSkills, in conjunction with public-private partners, to develop a more agile cyber workforce across the federal government. Their recommendations are aimed at improving the Department’s ability to build a world-class cybersecurity team and allow us to tap into pools of talented Americans like our Veterans, whose operational experience makes them well-suited to cybersecurity work.
Homeland security is a young and growing profession where talented people can truly make an impact in many different ways. To succeed as a Department, and as a nation, we must draw on the skills and talents of the broadest range of Americans – men and women who want to serve the public good and contribute to our mission.
Find out more about a career in cybersecurity here.
Posted by CIS Ombudsman Maria M. Odom
Last week, the Office of the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman (Ombudsman’s Office) hosted its Second Annual Conference at the National Archives. I was pleased to welcome over 250 attendees, including Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director Alejandro Mayorkas, to discuss improving the delivery of immigration benefits and services through inter-agency coordination. Other guests included representatives from community and faith-based organizations, immigration practitioners, members of the business community and government leaders from USCIS, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), as well as the Departments of Defense, Justice and State.
At the conference, I invited attendees to discuss their common goal of finding solutions to inter-agency challenges in the delivery of immigration services. I invited a renewed engagement because what we learn from stakeholders and government partners, as well as through individual case-work, informs our work at the Ombudsman’s Office. Throughout the day, panel discussions addressed topics such as the Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest program (MAVNI), Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), L-1 adjudications, Judicial Review of Immigration Decisions, Security in the Adjudications Process, and Government Accountability, among others.
During her keynote remarks, Secretary Napolitano said, “Managing the immigration system requires teamwork and cooperation among DHS agencies like USCIS and ICE and CBP, but also inter-agency partners like the Departments of Justice and State and the Social Security Administration. Equally important is the Ombudsman’s role in helping identify problems to USCIS so they may accomplish their mission with integrity, consistency and fairness.”
On behalf of the Ombudsman's Office, I want to thank the speakers and panelists, as well as the many stakeholders who participated in the conference. Additional information summarizing the dialogue that took place during the conference will be posted online in the coming weeks.
For more information, visit the CIS Ombudsman’s page here.
Posted by Mark Weatherford, Deputy Under Secretary for Cybersecurity, National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD)
As more and more daily functions rely on digital systems, the importance and necessity of protecting our computers, mobile devices, and networks will only continue to increase. While the vast majority of the nation’s cyber infrastructure resides in private hands, the national security and economic risks associated with these assets are so profound that their protection is of national importance. To minimize the risk of a successful cyber attack, we need everyone, including our industry partners, the general public, and yes, our partners in academia, to do their part.
According to a 2010 study by the U.S. Department of Commerce, science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) jobs are expected to grow 17% in the next decade -- nearly double what is projected for non-STEM occupations,. These opportunities are not just promising careers, they are opportunities to help secure our nation against the new generation of cyber threats.
Promoting STEM education is an essential step to developing a skilled cyber workforce. Formal, national cybersecurity education programs, such as the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education, work to establish an operational, sustainable, and continually improving cybersecurity education program for all Americans. The National Centers of Academic Excellence have certified more than 125 institutions nationwide that teach students valuable technical skills and promote research in various disciplines of information assurance.
DHS is committed to recruiting, training, and retaining cybersecurity professionals that are vital to the effort to make the Internet a safer and more secure place for everyone. Earlier this month, Secretary Napolitano received eleven recommendations from the Homeland Security Advisory Council Task Force on CyberSkills to improve DHS’ ability to build a world-class cybersecurity team and a strong pipeline of talented new hires for the future.
We are also building models of effective STEM education. One way we do that is through our sponsorship of cyber competitions across the country where participants can practice and hone cybersecurity skills in controlled, real-world environments. Stop.Think.Connect.™ Cyber Career Sessions also help undergraduate and graduate students, young professionals, and adults in job transitions learn about educational and career advancement opportunities available in government, academia, non-profit, and private industry.
And if I can make a pitch: DHS is a great place to come to work to help move this vision forward. We are a new department. It is a place where all of us – including you have the opportunity to make a positive impact for your country. We see these opportunities not just as promising careers, but as opportunities to contribute to something larger – to contribute to public service.
With a workforce trained in the skills crucial to success in the information age, there is no end to what Americans can do if we ACT – Achieve Cybersecurity Together. To learn more about DHS cyber education and training initiatives, click here.
America’s cybersecurity is inextricably linked to our nation’s economic vitality – IT systems are interdependent, interconnected and critical to our daily lives – from communication, travel, and powering our homes, to running our economy, and obtaining government services. Private industry owns and operates the vast majority of the Nation’s critical infrastructure and cyber networks. Therefore, protecting critical infrastructure and cyberspace – including the systems and networks that support the financial services industries – requires a full range of partners.
Yesterday, I met with representatives from the financial services sector at the NASDAQ MarketExchange to discuss how government and the private sector can increase coordination and information sharing to protect cyber networks and information systems through risk assessments, hardening IT architecture, exchanging lessons learned and successes, and reporting cyber incidents to authorities. In addition, government colleagues and I reaffirmed the Department of Homeland Security’s commitment to continually improving cybersecurity education and awareness while improving recruitment, training, and retention of cybersecurity professionals.
For business owners, protecting cyberspace is part of their bottom line. Cyber crime can mean financial loss for businesses both large and small. To address emerging cyber threats, we must acknowledge our shared responsibility to ACT -- Achieve Cybersecurity Together.
National Cyber Security Awareness Month is a great opportunity for businesses – as service or product providers, community members, and employers – to educate and empower their employees and consumers to practice safer online habits. Throughout this awareness initiative and beyond, businesses can take concrete steps to improve online safety:
- Host a Stop.Think.Connect. cybersecurity awareness event at your facility to engage your community in promoting awareness about the dangers Americans face online.
- Establish security practices and policies to protect the sensitive information of your organization and its employees, patrons, and stakeholders.
- Educate employees to the Internet security guidelines and procedures.
- Download and distribute cybersecurity materials in your workplace.
- Use and regularly update antivirus and antispyware software on all computers.
- Secure Internet connections by using such technologies as firewalls and encrypting information.
- Require employees to use strong passwords and regularly change them.
We all have a role to play in preventing cyber crime and protecting cyberspace as businesses and consumers alike. Find more information on National Cyber Security Awareness Month here, and more information on cybersecurity for your business here.
Posted by US Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan
What would you do if you receive a suspicious email from a friend that only included a link? Would you click on it? The email may be an attempt by an individual or group to solicit personal information or cause harm to our computers. This type of attack is referred to as “phishing.” Cybercriminals may send an email that appears to be from a friend or valid organization. The email may entice us to click a link that may look legitimate but is actually an attempt to collect our personal information or expose us to a website with malicious code.
These types of attacks are one example of the many complex cyber threats we face every time we go online regardless of whether we are at home, at work, or on the go. The spectrum of crime in today’s cyber landscape is limitless: threats, some more serious and sophisticated than others, can have wide-ranging effects on the individual, community, organizational, and national level.
Law enforcement plays an instrumental role in advancing the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) cybersecurity mission to proactively fight Internet-related crime and to empower citizens with resources and tools needed to protect against growing cyber threats. To combat cyber crime, DHS leverages the skills and resources of the U.S. Secret Service, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the United States Coast Guard, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection – working in cooperation with the Department of Justice, especially the Federal Bureau of Investigation – to investigate and prosecute cyber criminals. In fiscal year 2011, the U.S. Secret Service arrested over 1,239 suspects for cyber crime in investigations that prevented over $1.6 billion in fraud loss.
The need for collective action on cybersecurity has never been greater. In recognition of National Cyber Security Awareness Month this October, we pay special attention to “Achieving Cybersecurity Together.” DHS encourages law enforcement officials to help spread cybersecurity awareness to communities across the country by:
- Joining the Stop.Think.Connect.™ Campaign through the National Network or Cyber Awareness Coalition. Find out more at www.dhs.gov/stopthinkconnect.
- Leading or hosting a cybersecurity educational session or activity at a local school, library, or community center.
- Downloading and distributing Stop.Think.Connect. cybersecurity materials, including the Toolkit with resources for all ages and organizations.
- Blogging, tweeting, or posting about safe online behavior.
For more information about staying safe online and getting involved, visit www.dhs.gov/stopthinkconnect.
Today, I joined Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood and Amtrak President and CEO Joseph Boardman to announce a new partnership among the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Department of Transportation (DOT) and Amtrak to combat human trafficking. Through this partnership, we are pledging to do more to combat human trafficking by broadening our network of partners to help us identify and rescue victims and help bring perpetrators to justice.
DHS is responsible for investigating human trafficking, arresting traffickers and protecting victims, but we cannot do it alone. Everyone has a role in identifying and combating human trafficking - from Amtrak employees, to police officers, to even passengers on board a train. Transportation workers interact with thousands of travelers every day, so they are in a unique position to observe and report situations that don’t seem right.
These actions can save lives. In just the past few months, investigations by Immigration and Customs Enforcement and our partners in law enforcement have led to convictions of several traffickers, including a case in Virginia, where a former leader of the MS-13 street gang plead guilty for his role in a juvenile prostitution ring; and a case in Philadelphia where a man was sentenced to life in prison for smuggling young immigrants into the U.S. and forcing them to work for little or no pay.
In March of this year, President Obama directed his Administration to redouble efforts to eliminate human trafficking. In an address to the Clinton Global Initiative last week, the President reaffirmed America’s commitment to leading the global movement against human trafficking, calling it one of the great human rights causes of our time, and announced a number of new initiatives. The U.S. Government’s efforts augment the work of business, non-profits, educational institutions and foundations to combat trafficking.
We welcome partnerships like the one we’re announcing today, that can build a whole-of-nation approach to eliminating this scourge. Amtrak will utilize training and awareness materials developed by the DHS Blue Campaign to educate frontline transportation employees and Amtrak Police Department officers of potential indicators of human trafficking. And DHS and DOT have also committed to training their own employees on how to identify and report potential cases of human trafficking.
What can you do? The DHS Blue Campaign created training and awareness materials to inform people of potential indicators of human trafficking and identify potential victims. I encourage you to take a few minutes to learn the indicators of human trafficking and how to report it to the proper authorities. Together we can help protect innocent victims and prevent this form of modern day slavery.
Posted by Acting Chief Privacy Officer Jonathan R. Cantor
On behalf of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)’s Privacy Office, I am proud to present its eighth Annual Report to Congress.
The DHS Privacy Office ensures that privacy protections are built into Department systems, programs, and initiatives as they are developed and implemented. The report summarizes the numerous accomplishments of the DHS Privacy Office from July 2011 through June 2012, under the leadership of my predecessor, former Chief Privacy Officer Mary Ellen Callahan. It explains how the Privacy Office works to ensure that DHS carries out its homeland security mission in a privacy-protective manner.
We’ve accomplished a lot in the past year. Here are a few examples:
- Co-led the negotiation of a joint Statement of Privacy Principles with Canada in support of the U.S.-Canada Beyond the Border Action plan to facilitate the legitimate movement of people, goods, and services across our shared border. By expediting lawful trade and commerce into and across our shared border, the United States and Canada will enhance our economic competitiveness, create jobs and support economic growth.
- Participated as a key member of the negotiating team for the 2012 U.S. - EU Passenger Name Record (PNR) Agreement to provide enhanced privacy protections for travelers.
As our office continues to evolve and innovate, we continue to share our expertise and methodology with our peers to improve privacy protection across the entire federal government. I am very happy about these accomplishments, and look forward to leading the DHS Privacy Office into another year of continued achievement.
For more information on the DHS Privacy Office, please visit our website.
October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month
Few of us need to be reminded of the impact cyberspace has on our lives. From the kitchen table to the classroom, from business transactions to essential government operations and services, cybersecurity is an issue for all of us. National Cybersecurity Awareness Month reminds us that being safe and secure online is a shared responsibility. During the month of October and throughout the year we call on you to ACT and join DHS in “Achieving Cybersecurity Together.”
While increased connectivity has led to significant transformations and advances across the world, it has also increased our shared risk. Every day, criminals and terrorist organizations use cyberspace to exploit vulnerabilities. Their goal is to steal money, ideas, and information. In some cases they may disrupt, threaten, or destroy the availability of critical services such as electric power and running water.
Combating evolving cyber threats requires the engagement of our entire society – from government and law enforcement to the private sector and most importantly, members of the public. We know it only takes a single infected computer to potentially infect thousands and perhaps millions of others. That’s why it is our goal at the DHS to make basic cybersecurity practices as reflexive as putting on a seatbelt.
During National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, we are asking everyone to take these basic steps to improve your online safety and to protect cyberspace:
- Use antivirus software
- Be careful which websites you visit
- Don’t open emails or attachments that look suspicious
- Set strong passwords, and don’t share them with anyone
- Keep your operating system, browser, and other critical software optimized by installing updates
- Maintain an open dialogue with your family, friends, and community about Internet safety
- Limit the amount of personal information you post online, and use privacy settings to avoid sharing information widely
- Be cautious about what you receive or read online – if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is
Please help us continue to spread the word about how to stay safe online. And after we ensure that our computers are safe and secure throughout October, let’s continue to protect them throughout the year.
Thank you for your commitment and dedication to this critically important issue. And thank you for your continued partnership as we protect our nation’s cyber systems and networks.
Posted By Assistant Secretary Betsy Markey
Over the past year, I’ve had the exciting opportunity to introduce partnerships between the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and state and local governments in support of the “If You See Something, Say Something™” awareness campaign. Today is the fifth time that I have had the pleasure to personally announce a new partner in this important initiative.
This afternoon, I was in Madison, WI to join Governor Walker, Attorney General Van Hollen, Major General Dunbar and law enforcement and homeland security officials in announcing a new “If You See Something, Say Something™” partnership with the state of Wisconsin.
The “If You See Something, Say Something™” campaign encourages citizens to speak up if they see something that seems out of place – like an unattended bag – and gives individuals information about how to report suspicious activities. The Badger State will take a number of innovative steps to help deliver these important safety messages to its more than 5.7 million residents.
“If You See Something, Say Something™” messages will appear on digital billboards on major highways and thruways across the state, including I-94, WIS 57, and WIS 164, from Oshkosh to Westbend to Jefferson and a variety of other cities. Additionally, “If You See Something, Say Something™” campaign posters will be hung in a variety of venues around the state to engage a host of sectors and communities throughout Wisconsin. For example, in Madison, posters with photos of the state capitol will be on display, as well as posters with images of Lambeau Field in Green Bay. Pictures of Miller Park and Summerfest will also accompany these materials in Milwaukee.
With the help of the Milwaukee Police Department, the state’s two fusion centers are launching a new website, WiWatch.org, where additional information about the campaign is posted and where Wisconsinites can report suspicious activity. Later this year, Public Service Announcements on television and radio will also air in Wisconsin.
Secretary Napolitano often says that homeland security begins with hometown security – and partnerships like the one we are announcing today are integral to these efforts. DHS is proud to partner with state governments like Wisconsin, local governments and the private sector on this campaign. Together, we can encourage the identification and reporting of suspicious activity so we can keep communities across Wisconsin, and around the entire country, safe. So, while you’re driving, attending a sports game or shopping at your local store, remember: “If You See Something, Say Something™”.
Following the attacks on September 11, 2001, members of the emergency response community – police officers, firefighters, and emergency medical service personnel came together, in conjunction with the Federal government, to strengthen emergency communications capabilities through enhanced coordination, planning, training, and new equipment. Through the President’s Wireless Innovation and Infrastructure Initiative, the Administration outlined its commitment to the development and deployment of the Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network for use by emergency responders throughout the country.
The establishment of the FirstNet Board represents an important milestone in the implementation of the Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network, and today, I had the privilege of joining my fellow board members at the inaugural meeting to provide our nation’s first responders with a dedicated communications network to help them share information and communicate during emergency situations. The FirstNet Board will work directly with first responders to ensure that the design, construction, and governance of a nationwide network is done efficiently and effectively.
The FirstNet Board is ready to tackle the challenge before us, and DHS is committed to ensuring that the establishment of a nationwide network meets the needs of our nation’s emergency responders. To that end, DHS is providing technical assistance to states to update their Statewide Communication Interoperability Plans, and engaging federal, state, local, territorial and tribal public safety groups in the development of the Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network.
For more information on the Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network please go to www.dhs.gov/PublicSafetyBroadband.