On July 31, the White House released a report on its 30-day cybersecurity “sprint,” launched on June 12 in the wake of the Office of Personnel Management hacks. The report is brief, providing statistics on each agency’s use to date of two-factor authentication, and highlighting the dramatic 30% jump in adoption since the outset of the cyber sprint.  

When launching the cyber sprint in June, the Office of Management and Budget (“OMB”) instructed federal agencies to deploy technology from the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) to scan for malicious cyber activity and report any positive hits.  In addition, agencies were directed to: (i) immediately patch critical vulnerabilities, (ii) review and tightly limit the number of privileged users with access to authorized systems, and (iii) dramatically accelerate implementation of multi-factor authentication, such as using the hardware-based Personal Identity Verification (“PIV”) card issued to federal employees and contractors.  The agencies were asked to report back to OMB and DHS on progress and challenges within 30 days.

The July 31 report indicates that use of two-factor authentication climbed from about 42% to over 72% during the cyber sprint, which represents a significant jump in such a short time span, and immense progress after the 2011 initiative stalled at 42% in 2014.  Fourteen agencies met the goal for stronger user authentication set at the beginning of the cybersecurity sprint, while ten agencies fell below the target.  However, the report is silent regarding the results of the other goals to (i) deploy technology that scans for malicious activity, (ii) patch critical vulnerabilities, and (iii) limit the number of privileged users.

According to U.S. Chief Information Officer Tony Scott, over 100 experts from the public and private sectors have been assembled to assess the federal government’s cybersecurity policies, procedures, and practices.  The group is expected to release a set of action plans and strategies to further address critical cybersecurity priorities in the coming months.