Task Force: Information Sharing Critical to Nation's Security

A Markle Foundation task force says the nation's security depends on the ability for government and the private sector to share information, and the federal government must act immediately to assure that's done.

"The clarion call of this report is a simple one: the president and Congress must provide sustained leadership on information sharing in order to protect the nation," said the task force report entitled Nation At Risk: Policymakers Need Better Information to Protect the Country, which was issued this week. "An information sharing framework will succeed only if the American people are confident that it will respect their privacy and protect against inappropriate disclosure."

The Foundation, a public policy organization that focuses on national security and healthcare technology, urged Obama and Congress to:

Reaffirm information sharing as a top priority.
Make government information discoverable and accessible to authorized users by increasing the use of commercially available off-the-shelf technology.
Enhance security and privacy protections to match the increased power of shared information.
Transform the information sharing culture with metrics and incentives.
Empower users to drive information sharing by forming communities of interest.

The task force sees a clear connection between cybersecurity and information sharing. "The same technology that will help improve information sharing is a critical part of protecting against cyber threats," the report said. "For example, regular, automated compliance and behavior audits will not only protect privacy and make possible authorized use of information: they will greatly enhance the government's ability to monitor misuse of its information networks and potential attempts to compromise the data on such networks or the networks themselves."

Increased information sharing must be accompanied by safeguards to guarantee that information is used appropriately, the task force said. The group also said audit logs should be employed to protect privacy and security of information as well as regular, automated compliance and behavior audits. "Such audit capabilities enable oversight and accountability and are a critical protection against misuse and abuse (as well as) play an important role in protecting against cyber threats," the report said.

The task force called on all government agencies to implement privacy policies that will protect against inappropriate disclosure. "Clear, transparent and consistent policies are necessary to protect privacy and civil liberties," the group said.

Federal CIO Takes Leave After Former Office Raided by FBI

Federal agents Thursday raided the office of Washington, D.C.'s chief technology officer, the job held by Vivek Kundra until March 4, when he resigned to become the new federal chief information officer. Authorities arrested a district information security officer and the head of a local IT services provider.

Kundra was not implicated in the crime, according to several news reports, quoting unnamed law enforcement officials. Still, Kundra has taken a leave until further details about the case become clear, according to several published reports. "Obviously, it's a serious matter," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters.

Authorities arrested Yusuf Acar, the district's information systems security officer, who allegedly stashed $70,000 in cash at his home. Officials also arrested and charged with bribery Sushil Bansal, chief executive of the Advanced Integrated Technologies, which has provided various district agencies with IT services and equipment for the past five years.

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