Feds Face Infosec Challenges in Shutdown

April 7, 2011
Cyber Security, FedCyber Wire
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via Bank Info Security

Defining essential federal information systems to keep operating during a partial government shutdown could prove more complex than defining essential federal workers not to furlough.

As many as 800,000 federal employees could be furloughed, according to a White House estimate, but no one knows the number of IT systems and websites to be suspended should Congress fail to fund the government after midnight Friday. The government said many public-facing government websites would be shuttered if a shutdown occurs. And, many furloughed employees would be asked to surrender their government-issued BlackBerries and other devices.

Each cabinet department and agency has its own contingency plan on what personnel and systems to maintain and which employees to furlough and computer systems to suspend during a government shutdown.

Government overseers of information technology and cybersecurity provided few details as to the impact of a government shutdown on IT security. The Office of Management and Budget didn’t respond to requests to be interviewed on the subject. The Department of Homeland Security, the agency responsible for civilian agency cybersecurity, declined to offer an official to be interviewed on the shutdown, but earlier in the week issued the following statement:

“As a matter of course, DHS plans for contingencies. In fact, since 1980, all agencies and departments have had to have a plan in case of a government shutdown, and these plans are updated routinely. All of this is beside the point since, as the bipartisan congressional leadership has said on a number of occasions and as the president has made clear, no one anticipates or wants a government shutdown.” In concert, other government agencies issued nearly identically worded statements.

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