Award recognized innovation and excellence in creating effective teams to identify attackers and eliminate malicious code
Christopher Lukas, Chief of the Cyber Threat Analysis Division of the Bureau of Diplomatic Security at the US Department of State receiving the award with White House Cyber Coordinator Howard Schmidt, at the National Cybersecurity Innovation Conference in Washington, DC.
Washington DC, October 25, 2011
The SANS Institute announced today that the Cyber Threat Analysis Division in the Bureau of Diplomatic Security at the State Department has won the 2011 U.S. National Cyber Cybersecurity Innovation Award winner for its ground-breaking innovation in rapid identification and removal of targeted malware and national leadership in deep network forensics and reverse engineering.
Even the best defenses are unable to stop the most determined and well-funded opponents; some attacks get through. When they do, security professionals face one of their hardest tasks: finding the malicious code before it causes more damage. Few groups possess all the skills required to do this, but the Cyber Threat Analysis Division in the Bureau of Diplomatic Security at the State Department has built a good track record in building a team of people skilled in finding, isolating, analyzing, and eliminating malicious code that gets through the defenses.
When the State Department and Commerce Department were both hit with sophisticated, targeted attacks, and had to testify before Congress about what happened in the aftermath, the Commerce Department witness testified they were unable to find the malicious code, had to replace the infected computers, and did not know whether they had found all incidences of the attack so it may still be stealing sensitive US technology data maintained by the Commerce Department. The Bureau of Diplomatic Security witness, on the other hand, testified that their team found and blocked the attackers almost immediately, that they were able to reverse engineer the malicious software to determine exactly how it worked (and found two zero-day attacks in it), that they helped other agencies protect their systems and that they helped the anti-virus companies to enhance their software to discover other incidences of the malicious code. They also cleaned their systems rather than having to replace them.
An analysis by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, performed at the request of the chair of the Congressional subcommittee before which the Commerce and State Department witnesses described their experience, found that the reason the State Department succeeded, where the Commerce Department did not, was simply a matter of skills of the people. The Cyber Threat Analysis Division at the State Department had built a team with high proficiency in each of the following skills:
For creating effective teams to identify attackers and eliminate malicious code by recruiting, training, nurturing, and retaining key people with the right mix of critical skills, the 2011 National Cybersecurity Innovation Award is presented to the Cyber Threat Analysis Division of the Bureau of Diplomatic Security at the US Department of State.
The National Cybersecurity Innovation Awards recognize developments undertaken by companies and government agencies that have developed and deployed innovative processes or technologies that (1) is innovative in that it has not been deployed effectively before, (2) can show a significant impact on reducing cyber risk, (3) can be scaled quickly to serve large numbers of people, and (4) should be adopted quickly by many other organizations. Nominators for the include most of the senior government officials involved with cybersecurity as well as those from the major Cybersecurity Information Sharing and Analysis Centers (ISACs). Corporations and individuals, including SANS instructors also nominated innovations. Each nomination was tested by SANS research department against the criteria; those that met *all* four were recognized. More than 50 nominations were received; 14 were selected.
Press persons who want to talk with the AF 39thIOS and ask other questions contact:
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US Department of State: Brian Leventhal, 571-345-2499
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