Senate

  • Senate committee examines recruiting and retaining feds

    As Public Service Recognition Week continues here in the Nation’s Capital, one Senate committee with a long history of effort on behalf of federal workers is looking at recruiting and retaining the next generation of…

  • Senator strikes back at fed bashers

    Ted Kaufman: he’s loud, he’s proud, but he’s not here for long.

  • Senate panel has busy markup session

    Wednesday morning was busy.

  • Senate examines security clearance process

    Just about everyone has heard the story of some federal worker waiting as long as a year or more for a security clearance. A Senate committee today held its latest oversight hearing on the subject…

  • Senate moves to improve the performance of performance management

    A former Virginia Governor takes a key role in helping the Senate to understand government performance measurement.

  • Federal Cyber Security Education and Training

    Cyber attacks are a growing vulnerability for our homeland security and broader national interests – and federal employees are on the front lines. In fact, Politico recently reported that Congress and other government agencies face an average of 1.8 billion cyber attacks per month. Both the number of attacks and their sophistication continue to increase at an alarming rate.

    In many instances, the key to successfully combating an attack is stopping it at its entry point, which is often the unsuspecting federal employee. For example, the Politico report pointed out that ”…attacks are increasingly focused on infiltrating application software on Hill staffer computers…,”noting:

    In the last five months of 2009, 87 Senate offices, 13 Senate committees and seven other offices were attacked by spear-phishing attacks, which appeared as e-mail messages to staffers urging them to open infected attachments or click on bad links.

    It is critical that federal employees understand the possible types of cyber attacks in order to guard against them. Creating an awareness of cyber threats is only the beginning. Addressing a persistent and evolving threat requires persistent and evolving training. A number of key elements are required for any near-term or long-term cyber security training effort to succeed. Cyber security must be an agency priority. Cyber security education and training are much like any other agency initiative: if leadership indicates that something is a priority, agency employees will take action. Agency leadership must make it clear that cyber security education and training are a priority, model the behavior they ask of their employees, and dedicate resources to address the problem and its solution. If they do so, federal employees will respond accordingly.

    Education and training must be continuous. Hackers, terrorists, and other bad cyber actors do not wait for reporting requirements or other compelling organizational issues to decide when to attack – they just do. Education and training efforts should be ongoing, consistently updated, and test employees’ understanding of the topic on a regular basis. Agencies must be as persistent and agile in their training as cyber attackers are in their efforts to do harm.

    All agency employees must be included in training. All agency employees, and their contractors, are vulnerable to cyber attacks. No grade level is too high or too entry-level to be excluded from standard education and training. Reporting and accountability measures must be implemented. Accountability mechanisms should be used to not only identify those personnel who have or have not received cyber security training, but also on how well they retain the information they have learned. The use of cyber security quizzes or other mechanisms to test the workforce’s cyber knowledge provide a quantitative measure of the effectiveness of the training program as well as targeting specific personnel or subjects for deeper training.

    The techniques used to attack information networks and exploit information are quickly evolving to the point where it is almost impossible to distinguish intrusion activity. The federal government must use an educated workforce on the cyber threat as a force multiplier as part of its cyber security strategy. Individual employees and agencies must share the responsibility for anticipating and preventing cyber attacks from succeeding.

  • Special Representative for Global Partnerships

    April 12th and April 14th, 2009

    Elizabeth F. Bagley Special Representative for Global Partnerships Office of the Secretary of State Department of State

  • The Senator from Delaware rises to praise federal workers

    With the return of Congress this week, one lawmaker intends to return to his weekly ritual: delivering a floor speech in the United States Senate in praise of an exemplary federal employee. Delaware Senator Ted Kaufman says he will continue the weekly tributes through the end of his term this year.

  • How to tell telework bills apart

    You can’t tell the players without a scorecard!

  • Senate examines ways to strengthen federal workforce

    WFED’s Max Cacas reports.