The U.S. government is going through a lengthy shutdown and federal workers are starting to feel the pinch. Over 800,000 federal workers are still at home and about half were told to continue to work without pay. Even more, unless lawmakers intervene there’s no guarantee that these federal workers will get paid for the time the government was shut down.
Let’s remember that doesn’t mean cyber or national security threats will conveniently stop.
Yes, most of the government departments — State, Treasury, Justice and Defense — are still operational and are moving along. There are still police on the streets, military personal, NSA analysts fighting hackers in cyberspace and criminals still facing justice.
Yet, other departments like Homeland Security, which takes the bulk of the government’s cybersecurity responsibility — are starting to suffer the most. And the longer this shutdown goes on, the greater chance of reduced staffs, tighter budgets, and potential damage.
Here’s the Breakdown:
New Cybersecurity division at Homeland Security: On November 16, the new Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), a division of Homeland Security, was established. Yet, since it has been operational more than half of its staff have been effected by the shutdown. The divisions main purpose is to lead the national effort to defend critical national infrastructure from ongoing threats. They are feeling the pinch.
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) standards: The NIST gives all government departments up-to-date security advice. Over 85 percent of NIST employees have been sent home without pay. That just leaves a handful of NIST’s essential staff to provide advice and guidance.
Threat Intelligence: The Automated Indicator Sharing (AIS) allows private industry and government agencies to share threat intelligence. Information is also shared with Homeland Security’s government partners to ensure that any detected attack can only ever be used once. The shutdown has heavily impacted the data exchange program where they have sent 80 percent of staff home.
Secret Service staff are working unpaid: Keeping senior lawmakers, politicians, and the president alive is a paramount to national security. Yet the majority of front-line and back office Secret Service agents currently protecting senior administration staff are going unpaid during the shutdown.
TSA Agents – High Turnover? Up to 90 percent of the TSA’s workforce (60,078 employees) are going unpaid. This will mean huge turnover on an already low paying job. TSA did say things are moving forward at every U.S. airport security screening areas despite the shutdown. What type of quality is being provided. One traveler/passenger at Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport tweeted this week: “I asked TSA agent if I should take out my laptop out of its case and she said, ‘I don’t care, I’m not getting paid’.”
The government shutdown is hurting short-term efforts, but could also result in long-lasting damage. Cyber threats don’t operate on Washington’s political timetable, and they don’t stop because of a shutdown.
So how does that effect your organization? I would use what is happening with our national government as an example to prepare and protect your organization from potential threats.
JourneyTEAM, a Microsoft and Okta partner, are helping organization stay safe and secure from data loss, fraud, identity theft, compliance regulations, data breech, and digital disaster recovery. In short, business technology security is the single, most important thing you can do to protect your organization.
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