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Obama Administration Spells Out Cyber Security Policy

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White House Releases New, Detailed Directive on Cyber Attacks

This week, President Barack Obama approved a new Presidential Policy Directive (PPD) on cybersecurity that lays out a framework for federal response to potential large-scale cyber attacks.

The link url="https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2016/07/26/fact-sheet-presidential-policy-directive-united-states-cyber-incident-1" title="PPD on United States Cyber Incident Coordination"] is an all-encompassing directive that offers guidance from the initial identification of cyber threats all the way down to coordinated response to deal with those threats that are deemed severe. The PPD specifies specific policies and procedures to hone up federal cyber security as a whole.

One of the key components of the new directive is the Cyber Incident Severity Schema that specifies a color-coded alert system for identifying and labeling cyber threats, and, ultimately, defining response to those attacks. The scale ranges from inconsequential "Level 0" cyber events to "Level 5" cyber events that pose an imminent threat to public safety and/or national security. There are six levels in all.

Incident response principles

Additionally, the new PPD defines what it calls the five "Incident Response Principles" to guide government response through various cyber-related incidents.

A summary of the five principles:

-- Shared Responsibility: – Individuals, private companies, and government agencies must work together.

-- Risk-Based Response: Response to cyber events should be largely basis on risk analysis.

-- Respecting Affected Entities: Be aware when sensitive information is involved and protect both privacy and civil liberties.

-- Unity of Effort: Focus on coordination and communication.

-- Enabling Restoration and Recovery: Formulate a plan to return to normal operations as quickly and safely as possible.

Cyber-focused policy

The announcement of the Cyber Incident Coordination directive this week is the latest in a series of cyber-focused policy that has come directly from the Obama Administration during the last few years, with much of it occurring here in 2016. The President clearly stated the White House's focus on securing the U.S. from cyber threats with the announcement of the Cybersecurity National Action Plan in early February 2016, which specified both short-term actions and long-term strategies for bolstering U.S. cyber security.

Following the February release of the Action Plan, the White House has opened or completed various cyber-related initiatives, including finding cybersecurity workforce talent, launching a new cybersecurity commission, and continuing to focus on cyber threats.

The continuous focus on cybersecurity is clearly an effort to shore up what is largely considered to be a week spot in public safety and even national security. The Federal Government's
cybersecurity deficiencies and cybersecurity failures have both been well documented in recent months. And with reports claiming a link title="lack of cybersecurity education avenues"] in the U.S. in general, policy and directive may be more important than ever as the nation works its way to a more cyber secure existence.

Matt Mills Matt Mills has been involved in various aspects of online media, both on the editorial side and on the technology side, for more than 16 years. He holds a Master's Degree in Journalism from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism, and is currently involved in multiple projects focused on innovation journalism.