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Archive of posts published in the category: security
Apr
5

Computer Security Act of 1987

Computer Security Act of 1987

In 1987, the U.S. Congress, led by Rep. Jack Brooks, enacted a law reaffirming that the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST), a division of the Department of Commerce, was responsible for the security of unclassified, non-military government computer systems. Under the law, the role of the National Security Agency (NSA) was limited to providing technical assistance in the civilian security realm. Congress rightly felt that it was inappropriate for a military intelligence agency to have control over the dissemination of unclassified information.

The law was enacted after President Reagan issued the controversial National Security Decision Directive (NSDD) 145 in 1984. The Reagan directive gave NSA control over all government computer systems containing “sensitive but unclassified” information. This was followed by a second directive issued by National Security Advisor John Poindexter that extended NSA authority over non-government computer systems.

Since the enactment of the Computer Security Act, the NSA has sought to undercut NIST’s authority. In 1989, NSA signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) which purported to transfer back to NSA the authority given to NIST. The MOU created a NIST/NSA technical working group that developed the controversial Clipper Chip and Digital Signature Standard. The NSA has also worked in other ways to weaken the mandate of the CSA. In 1994, President Clinton issued Presidential Decision Directive (PDD) 29. This directive created the Security Policy Board, which has recommended that all computer security functions for the government be merged under NSA control. In 2009, President Obama released the Administration’s Cyberspace Policy Review. The report placed civil liberties and privacy protections at the center of the Administration’s new approach to guarding the nation’s digital infrastructure. Recognizing that privacy and security are complementary values, President Obama stressed privacy protections in every aspect of the new initiative. The Administration created a new National Security Council cybersecurity team that includes a privacy and civil liberties officer.


  • Public Law 100-235, The Computer Security Act of 1987.
  • U.S. House of Representatives, Science, Space, and Technology Committee Report on the Computer Security Act.
  • Memorandum from Clinton Brooks, Special Assistant to the Director, NSA, on NSDD-145 and the CSA (scanned image of document obtained by EPIC under FOIA) — “In 1984 NSA engineered a National Security Decision Directive, NSDD-145, through the Reagan Administration that gave responsibility for the security of all U.S. information systems to the Director of NSA, removing [the National Bureau of Standards, now NIST] from this.”
  • Controversial 1989 Memorandum of Understanding between NSA and NIST that attempted to give NSA power over civilian computer security.
  • Congressional testimony of EPIC Director Marc Rotenberg on implications of NSA/ NIST Memorandum of Understanding.
  • Computer System Security and Privacy Board (CSSPB) Web site. Congress established the CSSPAB as a public advisory board in the Computer Security Act.
  • Text of Presidential Decision Directive 29, creating the Security Policy Board (SPB). Scanned image of the first page of the directive obtained by EPIC.
  • Internal memorandum detailing activities of the SPB, obtained by the Federation of
Apr
3

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See if your website is blacklisted by website security authorities such as Google, PhishTank, etc.

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Identify if your website is running an outdated CMS or vulnerable plugins and extensions.

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Check your website for security anomalies, configuration issues, and security recommendations.

Enter a URL (ex. sucuri.net) and the Sucuri SiteCheck scanner will check WordPress for known malware, viruses, blacklisting status, website errors, out-of-date software, and malicious code.

This website requires JavaScript. Please enable JavaScript in your browser.

Disclaimer: Sucuri SiteCheck is a free WordPress security scanner.
Remote scanners have limited access and results are not guaranteed. For a full scan, contact our team.

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Identify if your WordPress site is running an outdated CMS or vulnerable plugins and extensions.

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Mar
31

Science and Technology | Homeland Security

S&T Mobilizes Key Data to Inform COVID-19 Response

The recent and increasingly rapid spread of COVID-19 will present formidable challenges in the effort to contain the outbreak and protect the health and safety of our citizens.

The Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate (DHS S&T) is working diligently to William N. Bryan; Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Under Secretary for Science and Technologysupport and inform the efforts of our federal agency partners and health organizations about the latest developments in news and research related to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as identify the gaps in our knowledge about the virus that require the attention of the medical emergency response community.

Many knowledge gaps about the virus directly affect DHS policy and operations, both in response to the outbreak and normal operations that may be impacted by the outbreak. Key knowledge gaps include:

  • Human infectious dose – how much of a dose does it take to make a person sick?
  • The ability of COVID-19 to be transmitted by contact
  • The efficacy of different decontamination solutions and methods
  • The personal protective equipment that’s effective against the virus, and who should be using it

To help us bridge these knowledge gaps, we have implemented the Probabilistic Analysis of National Threats, Hazards and Risks (PANTHR) Program and the Hazard Awareness & Characterization Technology Center, which is tracking the COVID-19 outbreak, coordinating efforts with the DHS Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Office and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, and ramping up research to support our response as the outbreak intensifies. PANTHR is active on several fronts in response to the outbreak:

  • Developed a COVID-19 Master Question List (MQL) that identifies current knowledge and research questions to help inform decision-making in response to the pandemic. Maintained primarily for our DHS components as a rapid reference to authoritative technical information, this is also disseminated across the Homeland Security Enterprise, including the World Health Organization. Our PANTHR staff is updating the MQL weekly to highlight key information that is developing about the virus and raise important questions that still need to be answered. You can view our current MQL here. The blue highlighted text indicates new information and questions from the previous week. We will post an updated MQL every week, so check back to learn new information.
  • Conducting more detailed analysis of information in the MQL to answer Requests for Information from our DHS component and interagency partners to inform their operations. As an example, this included initiating a detailed literature review on environmental stability to better understand the hazards posed by incoming shipments from China.
  • Conducting laboratory studies at the National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Center to produce data on environmental stability of the virus and disinfection of contaminated surfaces.

Visit the DHS website at http://www.dhs.gov/coronavirus for more information about the COVID-19 pandemic and the federal government’s response. DHS and its components, including S&T, will be continuously updating content to keep you informed. For a deeper dive into what our partner agencies, including the Department of Health and Human Services, the lead federal agency for

Apr
17

The United States Social Security Administration

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