News from inside the beltway

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), has created the National Cyber Security Division (NCSD) to help implement the president’s National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace and the Homeland Security Act of 2002. The NCSD will provide 24/7 functions such as conducting cyberspace analysis, issuing alerts and warnings, improving information-sharing, responding to major incidents, and aiding in national-level recovery efforts.

Vermont and New Jersey are developing a digital licensing system, awarding Massachusetts-based Digimarc ID Systems contracts to supply the states with new technologies to watermark their licenses. Digital watermarking technology allows users to embed a digital code in audio, images, video and printed documents that is imperceptible during normal use but readable by computers and software.

The General Accounting Office (GAO) recently reported more than 750 security weaknesses in the IRS’s general control systems, with a majority of those weaknesses focused in logical access controls such as password protection and network security. The GAO called the IRS at “heightened risk of access to critical data by unauthorized persons.”

Office of Personnel Management (OPM) security clearance forms SF-86 and SF-86C are now online. The two forms allow federal employees to apply for security clearance and quickly update their information online. The e-clearance initiative is one of President Bush’s 24 proposed e-government initiatives.