Agencies Urged to Improve Continuous Monitoring of IT Systems

April 5, 2012

Agencies have been slow to invest in tools that continuously monitor federal systems and networks for cyber intrusions, 43,889 of which agencies reported to the Department of Homeland Security last fiscal year.

A little more than half of the government's information systems — 56 percent — were monitored in near real time to detect software flaws, required patches, devices operating on the network and other key security metrics, according to 2010 data in a Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) report to Congress. Agencies increased that number to 78 percent last fiscal year, but continuous monitoring capabilities are still lagging at some agencies, including the Small Business Administration and Commerce Department.

"Federal departments and agencies must defend their information systems in a resource-constrained environment, balancing system security and survivability while meeting numerous operational requirements," White House cybersecurity coordinator Howard Schmidt said in a March 23 blog post. 

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