Gaining Trust to Lower Cyber Risk
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is responsible for providing a common baseline of cybersecurity across the civilian Government. It assists agencies with managing their cyber risk.
To achieve success in this mission, Federal agencies need to trust that DHS is providing the right tools, advice, and support. Federal buy-in, although critical, is not always easy to generate. Trust is even more difficult to achieve but has a greater impact on the mission.
The following are some ideas that DHS can focus on to build this buy-in and be successful in its cyber mission.
First, DHS can be a recognized leader in providing technical assistance. Perhaps looking at how the General Services Administration has set up 18F as a strike team that helps agencies adopt Agile practices to transform how they buy and implement information technology provides some lessons.
Second, DHS needs to re-invent how it collaborates with the private sector, engaging Federal agencies throughout the process. Although DHS has accelerated the adoption and availability of critical cybersecurity programs, it took an important step recently by reaching out to industry to help improve some of these programs. DHS can build trust with agencies by leveraging the innovation and experience of the private sector.
Third, as DHS agencies continue to improve their cybersecurity performances, other agencies will view DHS as a leader in federal cybersecurity efforts. Building relationships as experts is important to generate buy-in. A DHS cyber leader recently said that her top priority is building trust with Government customers and private industry and leveraging those relationships to create a system where everyone can learn from each other. Personal relationships are critical to build trust that leads to results. Finally, enhancing cybersecurity-focused communications campaigns, such as DHS’ National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, engages the public. An engaged public helps counter cyber threats on a national scale.
As DHS continues to strengthen its role as the cybersecurity authority agency of the civilian Government, trusted partnerships with Federal agencies reduce risk and engage other partners to enhance cyber mission results.