Napolitano: Homeland, economic security 'go hand-in-hand'

Monday - 1/30/2012, 5:00pm EST

Homeland security and economic wellbeing will be increasingly tied together in the coming year, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said in prepared remarks for a speech at a National Press Club luncheon Monday.

"No one understands the need for security more than the business community, where one break in the supply chain can put an entire company at risk," Napolitano said in the second annual speech on the state of homeland security. She focused on the department's key initiatives over the past year as well as its priorities going forward.

In addition to the relationship between security and trade, Napolitano discussed the increasing role the agency plays in cybersecurity.

Security goes'hand-in-hand'

"Simply put, our homeland security and our economic security go hand-in-hand," Napolitano said.

She cited a transition in 2012 "toward a risk-based, information-driven approach to security" designed to bolster security and free up efficiencies in trading and traveling.

Napolitano discussed an expansion of Global Entry, a program that allows expedited entry into the United States for pre-approved, low-risk travelers as well as TSA PreCheck, a domestic trusted-traveler program that provides expedited screening for travelers who volunteer information before flying.

Partnerships between DHS and industry have also led to the development of several new security tools, Napolitano said. For example, she cited the department's "Commercial First" program, which aims to leverage private-sector development in nuclear and radiological detection equipment.

"This initiative facilitates interaction among industry, stakeholders, and researchers to develop technology that is better and more cost-effective," she said.

DHS has a particular aim of boosting its work with small business

"Small businesses are inextricably linked to the larger commercial world — and in many cases are serving as the engines of security innovation."

In fiscal year 2011, DHS awarded nearly 30 percent of contracting dollars to small business, including $4.2 billion in prime contracts being awarded to small businesses, she said.

That puts the department slightly under its goals for 2011, according to a DHS web page, which lists 33.5 percent as the agency's benchmark for 2011.

Expansion of the cyber role

The focus on risk-management and information sharing also comes into play in the agency's cybersecurity efforts.

"In today's high tech security and commercial environments, we must also focus beyond just the physical movement of goods and people across our borders," Napolitano said.

And over the past year, DHS has expanded its role from protecting government networks to also partnering with key industry partners to protect critical infrastructure and secure the online marketplace.

"Beyond protecting the computer networks of the civilian side of our government, we are leading the effort to protect our nation's critical information infrastructure — the systems and networks that support the financial services industry, the electric power industry and the telecommunications industry, to name a few," she said.

The agency is now working alongside "dedicated representatives" from those sectors to address cybersecurity. In addition, last year alone, the department's Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) responded to more than 100,000 incident reports, she said, and released more than 5,000 alerts to both government authorities and private-sector partners.

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