DHS Cybersecurity Nominee Criticized

By Laura Spadanuta, Assistant Editor reports that the Department of Homeland Security's appointment to oversee the program that secures computer networks across federal agencies is drawing criticism from Congress.

Scott Charbo is currently DHS' chief information officer. He was appointed deputy undersecretary for the National Protection and Programs Directorate earlier this month. Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, is criticizing the choice:

In a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, Thompson said an investigation conducted by his committee last year showed Charbo failed to properly address computer security breaches within agencies housed at department headquarters, along with incompetent and possibly illegal activity by private contractor Unisys.

The incidents included the exfiltration of information from Homeland Security Department networks to a Web-hosting service that connects Chinese Web sites, according to Thompson's investigation.

The security breaches that occurred under Charbo's watch and the work by Unisys are now under investigation by the FBI and the Homeland Security Department inspector general, according to Thompson and congressional aides.

The article says that it has been confirmed to CongressDaily that the Inspector General's investigation is continuing, although the FBI would not confirm or deny an investigation's existence.

Charbo's appointment does not require Senate confirmation. A DHS spokesperson has said: 

Charbo has "invaluable management skills" and "made impressive progress" on securing computers and networks while institutionalizing "rigorous network security and data and privacy protection programs."

She added that the department takes Thompson's allegations "very seriously" and has provided every incident report to the department's security operations center, as well as to the House Homeland Security Committee when requested.




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