CIO Offers Security Budget Warning

WASHINGTON (07/28/2000) - Government agencies should not expect any additional funding for security this year, even though the need to protect their systems is rapidly growing, according to Fernando Burbano, chief information officer at the State Department.

As the number of Internet users grows and intrusion tools become simpler but more sophisticated, it is easier for hackers to infiltrate a system, Burbano said at a conference Wednesday organized by the Digital Government Institute.

Many hacker tools are "point and click" and are freely available on the Internet, he said.

Burbano said it is possible that the next president will bring "new money" for security programs; the two leading candidates have shown enthusiasm on the issue.

There is, however, an underlying problem with the budget process that makes funding security initiatives difficult, Burbano said. For example, although the White House issued Presidential Decision Directive 63 in May 1998, it took agencies until late last year to draft their PDD 63 plans, and funding requests are just now being incorporated into budgets.

PDD 63 requires agencies to develop ways to protect their critical information systems from cyberattacks.

"A lot of Internet applications critical to agencies haven't come up until the last year or two," Burbano said. "They require different security from what [is necessary] on mainframes. [Agencies] are not budgeted for that."

In order to decide how to allocate resources for security, agencies should first identify critical assets and perform a risk assessment, Burbano said.

Agencies must develop a list of threats, evaluate which threats impact them and determine the impact of successful attacks.

In terms of strategy, agencies should first eliminate nuisance threats, Burbano said, adding that they should also develop a priority list and share solutions.

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