The Foreign Service Journal - January/February 2014 - page 19

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
|
JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2014
19
tablets, Twitter and other social media
systems, the possibilities for diplomacy
seemboundless. Unfortunately, security
remains relegated to the back burner,
despite growing dangers.
Making Cybersecurity
a Top Priority
Media reports describe construction
of a new $400 million headquarters to
house a Department of Defense “Cyber
Command” at Fort Meade inMaryland.
The new entity will reportedly be staffed by
4,000 to 5,000 military and civilian person-
nel whose duties are to detect, defend
against and stop penetration of DOD’s
computer systems.
State lacks the resources to construct
such a capacity. But there are steps we can
take—indeed,
must
take to restore infor-
mation integrity and protection, thereby
reassuring our friends and allies. Today,
three years after the WikiLeaks episode,
many foreign interlocutors remain reticent
about sharing any sensitive informa-
tion with our diplomats. This reluctance
hampers relationships, causes friction and
emboldens our enemies.
point. This directive calls for improved
protection of critical information infra-
structure. With that inmind, I offer two
recommendations to address pressing
State Department deficiencies:
Increase security of existing classi-
fied networks
. Media reporting leaves no
doubt that our nation’s focus on informa-
tion security, communications security
and classified networks has seriously
weakened. To counter this worrying trend
within the Foreign Service, more resources
must be directed toward supporting Infor-
mation Programs Center operations.
This should include a renewed focus
on emergency communications training
for handling vital reports, particularly now
that the Bureau of Information Resource
Management has abandoned its Warren-
ton Training Center facility. Fortunately,
the IPC structure remains central to the
core reporting function of the Foreign Ser-
vice, and chiefs of mission, deputy chiefs
of mission andmanagement counselors
should all show strong support for this
vital operation.
Make cybersecurity amanagement
priority by setting performancemetrics
.
The process of prioritizing cybersecurity
will necessarily be led by ambassadors
and other Senior Foreign Service officers,
but it is most critical for Chief Information
Officers. Yet the last CIO to work inside
one of State’s Information Programs Cen-
ters, which handle somuch of this critical
responsibility, did so 13 years ago.
Since then, nearly all CIOs have come
fromunclassified Information Systems
Centers. None have IPC experience.
(While it may be purely coincidental, the
WikiLeaks catastrophe and other data
leaks all occurred during this period.)
Clearly, State should require IRMperson-
nel to acquire hybrid experience, through
stints inside IPCs and ISCs, as a prerequi-
site to assume CIO leadership positions.
This would promote senior cybersecurity
awareness and crown a 27-year odyssey in
search of a unified IRMorganization that
encompasses the classified and unclassi-
fied domains.
Other Initiatives
to Consider
Strengthening IPC operations and
building more security awareness into the
senior IRM leadership are key require-
ments. But other initiatives deserve consid-
eration, too.
Take, for example, the Russian Federal
Guard Service’s recent switch fromdigital
systems to typewriters and paper (report-
edly in response to the Snowden affair).
That shift certainly does not mean that
we should return to the best practices of
a quarter-century ago, when those of us
inMoscow issued “Mickey Mouse” magic
slate erasable writing pads to Secretary
of State George Shultz and other high-
level visitors. But it is worth recalling that
evidence of Soviet eavesdropping was first
reported by an alert IPC officer.
The Diplomatic Courier Service, which
proudly traces its origins as a secure com-
munications systemback to the days of
the Committee of Secret Correspondence,
might play a novel role in confronting
today’s security challenge. Especially
sensitive, but not perishable, information
could be sent via courier if selected cables
are captioned “DCS CHANNEL.” Creation
of such a new telegraphic channel would
result in slower delivery but enhanced
protection. This envisions a kind of asym-
metrical “mobile firewall” strategy.
The Bureau of Diplomatic Security also
needs to urgently review the operational
Today’s technology offers
boundless possibilities for
diplomacy. But information
security must not be relegated
to the back burner in the process.
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