NIST, DHS to partner with financial industry on cybersecurity

Tuesday - 12/7/2010, 1:13pm EST

By Jason Miller
Executive Editor
Federal News Radio

The National Institute of Standards and Technology and the Homeland Security Department's Science and Technology directorate are teaming up with the private sector to improve the cybersecurity of financial services.

NIST and DHS signed a memorandum of understanding with the Financial Services Coordinating Council for Critical Infrastructure and Homeland Security to promote innovation to overcome cybersecurity vulnerabilities and promote better processes to benefit critical functions of the financial services industry.

Under the terms of the agreement, NIST, DHS and the coordinating committee will develop and make available cyber research and testing based on the needs of the financial services companies, which includes banks, credit unions, insurance companies and others. The government and private sector also will test new technologies to strengthen the resiliency, integrity and usability of financial services critical infrastructure.

"Financial services-banking and credit card transactions, insurance, trading and funds management, and many other business and consumer financial activities-are increasingly provided online," said Aneesh Chopra, federal chief technology officer, and Howard Schmidt, the White House cybersecurity coordinator, in a blog post on the Office of Science and Technology Policy website Monday. "As a result, threats to these services are threats to individuals, companies and the nation. Ensuring these online services are reliable, accurate, safe and secure against threats is a shared responsibility of the public and private sectors alike. Many of the innovations emerging from the partnership will extend beyond financial services to online health services, the Smart Grid, and the nation's water, transportation, and other critical infrastructures."

DHS has been working with the financial services sector as well as other business sectors for some time. DHS and the Defense Department have been running a pilot program over the last year to share cybersecurity information with financial services companies.

The MOU provides a framework for two or more of the participants to work on specific projects to improve cybersecurity for the financial services sector. The Treasury Department also will play a coordinating role as required under Homeland Security Presidential Directive-7.

NIST, DHS and the financial services sector also will develop a joint test infrastructure for several cyber areas, including high assurance network infrastructure, advanced identity management technologies and improved usability of security technologies.

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