VA IT specialist creates cyber awareness site

Wednesday - 8/25/2010, 3:57pm EDT

Melissa Short, IT specialist, VA

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  • Who do you know - who might make a good Cybersecurity Ambassador? We've been talking with the winners of the Department of Homeland Security's 2010 Cyber Challenge. And, a regular theme running through a lot of them has to do with ways to teach people about the importance of being better cyber-secure. But, none of them so far has come up with a leadership program. Melissa Short is an IT specialist with the Department of Veterans Affairs in Roanoke, Virginia. Her idea won the honor for "Best Individual Plan." It's called "Cybersecurity Starts Here: Home, School, and Main Street." Her target audience was the general population. But, a key part of her entry was her idea for establishing a Cybersecurity Ambassador Program.

  • It was the most significant breach on military computers -- and it was caused by a simple flash drive. The 2008 attack on a military computer in the Middle East -- used malicious code placed on the drive by a foreign intelligence agency. The file was then uploaded onto a file used by Central Command. The Washington Post reports, the code spread undetected on both classified and unclassified systems, establishing what amounted to a digital beachhead, from which data could be transferred to servers under foreign control. But now, the Defense Department is fighting back. They are using what they call "active defense" -- seeking out intruders in their system -- like the counterfeit hardware that was detected in systems that the Pentagon bought. Such hardware could expose the network. Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynn says the Pentagon has begun to recognize its vulnerability and is making a case for how you've got to deal with it.

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