The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has become the unlikely hero of the new White House campaign to stop cybercrime, despite a history of mismanagement and a possible cutoff of its funding, NPR reports. To succeed, the bureaucracy must inspire trust and compete against similar efforts by the tech industry. If cybercriminals work fast enough, “they can get these pieces of malware into an operation fairly quickly,” says John South of Heartland Payment Systems, whose company fell prey in 2008 to one of the biggest credit card hacks in history. Imagine a super smart digital collection bin where every company and local and state government agency could submit a warning: We got hit by this line of code; don’t let it happen to you. The Department of Homeland Security is working to build it.
“We have to do the one thing the adversary can’t. And that is connect all the dots — from what the private sector sees, what we in government see, and put it together and make it available to every computer on the planet that needs to be protected,” says Phyllis Schneck, deputy undersecretary for cybersecurity. A handful of federal rules require sectors like banking and health care to report hacks, and most breaches go unreported. Homeland Security is working on a new, automated system for public and private entities to use — a shared language to share threat information, like specific lines of malware, and the unique IP addresses of attacking computers.