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DHS’ automated cyber threat sharing system is ready for business

The Homeland Security Department’s automated, near real time information sharing system is up and running.

DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson said his department reached a “major milestone” as of Oct. 31, when his team launched an automated system for sharing cyber threat indicators.

“We are working with multiple agencies and private sector partners to expand the number of those sharing and receiving information through the automated system,” he said, during a far-reaching conversation at the Council on Foreign Relations on Nov. 4.

Johnson’s announcement coincides with the general timeline he gave for near real time data sharing in July.

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The launch of the department’s automated data sharing system is just one of several different steps DHS is taking in its role as the interface for federal agencies and the private sector under the National Cybersecurity and Communication Integration Center (NCCIC).

The first phase of DHS’ continuous diagnostics and mitigation (CDM) program is available to 97 percent of federal civilian network, Johnson said.

The Office of Management and Budget gave DHS a Sept. 30, 2016, deadline to implement phase 2 of the CDM program to civilian agencies, according to a new cybersecurity strategy and implementation plan OMB released Oct. 30.

Agencies have fixed nearly 99 percent of the 363 critical vulnerabilities across government that the NCCIC identified after the department released its first-ever Binding Operational Directive in May, Johnson said.

“We are discovering more critical vulnerabilities every day,” he said. “Our numbers of vulnerabilities are still higher than I’d like, although far lower than 363.”

Johnson said the EINSTEIN intrusion and detection prevention system, otherwise known as E3A, now protects 47 percent of federal agencies, slightly more than the 45 percent the department said it covered in June.

In OMB’s new cybersecurity strategy, it gave DHS an accelerated deadline of Dec. 31 to implement E3A.

Johnson said he gave his employees the same deadline.

“I said we’ve got to have at least some aspects of E3A — because E3A blocks known bad actors — up and available by a certain date, and I said at the end of this year. Our folks are accelerating that process, but this is with respect to a system that came online not that long ago,” Johnson said.

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