New Cyber Hygiene Campaign Seeks to Curtail Attacks

By Stew Magnuson

Taking five relatively easy and inexpensive steps can prevent 80 percent of attacks by hackers who are attempting to infiltrate company or government computer systems, according to a coalition of organizations involved in cyber security.

The Center for Internet Security and the Council on CyberSecurity, working with the Department of Homeland Security, the National Governors Association and the Governors Homeland Security Advisors Council launched the Cyber Hygiene Campaign in April. Its goal is to help both the public and private sectors to immediately and measurably improve their readiness to defend against the ever-increasing volume of cyber attacks, it said in a statement. 

The five steps are: inventory authorized and unauthorized devices; inventory authorized and unauthorized software; develop and manage secure configurations for all devices; conduct continuous (automated) vulnerability assessment and remediation; and actively manage and control the use of administrative privileges.

“Today, the vast majority of cyber attacks are successful due to failure to implement basic cyber hygiene,” said William Pelgrin, president and CEO of the Center for Internet Security.

Air Force Maj. Gen. Donald Dunbar, National Guard adjutant general of Wisconsin and chairman of the governor’s council, said: “Adopting these recommendations will not make you immune from cyber attack, but will make any network more resistant and resilient.”

The consortium supports DHS’ launch of the critical infrastructure cyber community voluntary program, which is based on the National Institute of Standards and Technology cyber security framework released in February.

Franklin S. Reeder, chairman of the board of the council, said he “believes that all three elements of the cyber ecosystem — people, technology and policy — must be considered together and brought into alignment in order to create a foundation of security practices that are understandable and usable.”

The campaign is working with state governments in hopes that its principles can be practiced by all states. The homeland security council adopted it as a key focal point of its 2014/2015 program agenda and will encourage states to seek funding through the federal Homeland Security grant program to help implement its recommendations.

Dunbar said: “This concept is similar to vaccination against the flu — it is not 100 percent guaranteed, but those who get the shot are much less likely to suffer the flu. We all agree on the problem. What we need is a common sense place to start and this campaign is that first step.”  

Topics: Cyber, Cybersecurity, Homeland Security, DHS Policy

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