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Cybersecurity Brings New Wrinkle To 'Essential' Personnel Cybersecurity Brings New Wrinkle To 'Essential' Personnel

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Congress

Cybersecurity Brings New Wrinkle To 'Essential' Personnel

February 23, 2011

With a possible government shutdown looming, agencies face a tough decision that was barely an issue in 1995, the last time they had to furlough employees: Which computer security personnel should be required to continue working?

Nextgov.com reports that the stalemate between Congress and the White House over funding levels for the rest of the fiscal year could force the government to suspend services and employees who are not "essential" -- or critical to the safety of life and property. The lists of essential security personnel drawn up 15 years ago are irrelevant, computer specialists say. Pinpointing essential information technology personnel today is more important than ever, they note, because many crucial activities have moved online at agencies, notably at the Social Security Administration and Treasury Department.

"In 1995, the government wasn't really doing anything about security, with the exception of three-letter agencies and the military," said Jeffrey Wheatman, a security and privacy analyst with the Gartner research group, referring to such entities as the CIA and the FBI.

Agencies immediately should be determining which systems need daily surveillance and strategic defense, as well as evaluating the job descriptions of the people operating those systems, according to former federal executives citing government policy. To read more, click here.

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