NIST cybersecurity center moves into high gear
By Amber Corrin
For more than 150 years, the National Institute of Standards and Technology has toiled in the background of federal operations, carrying out the nation’s business of science ranging, as its website points out, from nanotechnology to skyscrapers and jetliners. Today, that tradition endures, but one key mission is raising the agency’s profile: cybersecurity.
In his February executive order on cybersecurity, President Barack Obama directed NIST to create a framework that would help government and the private sector better protect networks and information. The latest legislation on cybersecurity also focuses on NIST and its role as a leader in securing U.S. assets in cyberspace.
To support a mission that is certain to grow in scope and significance, the agency last year launched its National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence (NCCOE). Based near NIST’s Gaithersburg, Md., headquarters, the center started off as a concept but over the last year has grown into a hive of activity. With the help of the center and its personnel, NIST will release an initial cybersecurity framework in October.
Donna Dodson, division chief of NIST’s computer security division and acting executive director of the NCCOE, recently sat down with FCW’s Amber Corrin to talk about the center, its work and what she hopes to accomplish.
Donna Dodson heads the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence.
FCW: What exactly is the NCCOE, and what are you doing there?
Donna Dodson: The purpose of the center is to help with the broad adoption of cybersecurity tools and technologies that are currently available, to get them in use and get people understanding how to use them throughout the lifecycle.
We have good technologies available today from the commercial side. How do we maximize the capabilities that are there, and where do we need innovation to grow to meet the demands where the technology isn’t up to where it should be? That’s really the heart and soul of what we’re trying to do.
FCW: How does the NCCOE support provisions in President Obama’s executive order, which focuses heavily on public-private partnership?
DD: The foundation of the center has been on a public-private partnership. That is at the core of what we’re doing, so we have the IT industry coming in as long-term partners with us so that we’re using technologies and capabilities that you can go out and purchase, that are built on those standards, best practices and use cases. It’s about working with different communities like utilities, financial, manufacturing, health care, transportation and the federal government.