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U.S. Government Information Security Leadership Awards Recognize DHS Cybersecurity Efforts

Phyllis Schneck, Deputy Under Secretary for Cybersecurity and Communications, NPPD
Deputy Under Secretary for Cybersecurity and Communications

A U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) employee along with one of our valued partners have been named as recipients of 2015 International Information System Security Certification Consortium, Inc. (ISC)² U.S. Government Information Security Leadership Awards (GISLA). These prestigious awards, presented annually by the ISC², recognize individuals and teams whose initiatives, processes, and projects have significantly improved the security posture of their federal, state, or local department or agency or the Federal Government as a whole.

Office of Cybersecurity and Communications, Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation (CDM) program manager and requirements and acquisition support branch chief John Simms was awarded the Technology Improvement Award for his innovative approach to rapidly deploy nearly $60 million of CDM tools to 21 agencies through a product-only task order focused on those agencies that could immediately benefit from additional tools. His effort not only supported rapid security improvement for those agencies, but resulted in $26 million in cost avoidance and an average of 30 percent reduction of GSA IT Schedule 70 prices. Through his efforts, John ensured that the critical capabilities necessary to meet emerging cyber threats government-wide were acquired to protect federal networks while saving taxpayer dollars.

The runner-up for the Technology Improvement Award was also from DHS’s Office of Cybersecurity and Communications: Preston Werntz, senior strategist leading the Trusted Automated Exchange of Indicator Information (TAXII) server program. Preston was nominated for leading the TAXII pilot, which tested automated delivery of Structured Threat Information Expression (STIX) indicators to enable cyber threat information sharing in near-real time.

The CERT Coordinating Center (CERT/CC) Vulnerability Research and Coordination team from the Carnegie Mellon University Software Engineering Institute was awarded the Most Valuable Industry Partner Award. This key partner, who works closely with DHS’s United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT), won the award for pioneering efforts in vulnerability research automation for existing and emerging computing domains. Their efforts have significantly improved the larger US-CERT mission of improving information security and providing value to industry partners.

Finally, DHS’s Industrial Control Systems Cyber Emergency Response Team (ICS-CERT) was the runner-up for the Community Awareness Award for their Action Campaign to educate partners about two cyber exploitation campaigns caused by Black Energy and Havex malware.

Congratulations to John, Preston, the ICS-CERT team and our partners who were well-represented among the 2015 GISLA winners and finalists. These awards are a testament to the excellent and important work our employees across the Department do every day to improve the cybersecurity posture of the entire Federal Government and enhance the security of our Nation’s critical networks.

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