The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has announced a public meeting on May 18-19, 2016 to “discuss and debate Voluntary Standards for Information Sharing and Analysis Organizations (ISAOs) as they relate to” Executive Order 13691 (EO 13691).  See 81 Fed. Reg. 23506.  This meeting follows the recent passage of the Cybersecurity Act of 2015, which offers liability protections in Title 1 of the Act for the voluntary sharing of cyber threat information and “defensive measures” among federal and non-federal entities.  These liability protections may help with the expansion of ISAOs.

EO 13691 requires the Secretary of DHS to “strongly encourage” the development of ISAOs. The purpose of these ISAOs is to facilitate the voluntary sharing of information to allow for collaboration and response to cyber incidents “in as close to real time as possible.”  EO 13691 at § 1.  These ISAOs are intended to be broader than the Information Sharing and Analysis Centers (ISACs) that have developed on a sector-specific basis.  Indeed, the White House Fact Sheet on EO 13691 recognizes that an ISAO also could be an individual company sharing information with customers or partners.

DHS recently awarded a grant to the ISAO Standards Organization to help develop the standards that will apply to ISAOs. These standards are intended to facilitate automated sharing and will represent “baseline capabilities” for ISAOs in the areas of contractual agreements, operating procedures, technical means of sharing, and privacy protections.  EO 13691 at Sec. 3(a).  In developing these standards, the ISAO Standards Organization is required to solicit public input from organizations already engaged in information sharing, critical infrastructure owners and operators, agencies, and other stakeholders. See EO 13691 at Sec. 3(c).  The standards that are developed also should be consistent with voluntary international standards that would advance the objectives of the EO. See EO 13691 at Sec. 3(d).

The ISAO Standards Organization has formed six key working groups to spearhead the process of drafting ISAO standards. The first draft of these standards are expected in June 2016.  The Federal Register Notice indicates that that the following questions will be addressed in these draft standards:

  • What needs to be considered by a newly-forming ISAO and what are the first steps?
  • What capabilities might an ISAO provide?
  • What types of information will be shared and what are some mechanisms for doing so?
  • What security and privacy is needed for a newly-forming ISAO?
  • What mentoring support is available for newly-forming ISAOs?
  • What government programs and services are available to assist ISAOs?
  • What concerns do regulators and law enforcement have about the new ISAO construct?

The ISAO Standards Group will consider input on the voluntary standards in a number of ways:  (1) in person at the May 19th public meeting; (2) by email to ISAO@lmi.org; (3) through the federal rulemaking portal at http://www.regulations.gov, and/or (4) through hard copy mail to the ISAO Standards Organization, c/o LMI, 1777 NE Loop 410, Suite 808, San Antonio, TX  78217-5217. The Federal Register notice states that comments must be submitted to the online docket or received by the ISAO Standards Organization by November 4, 2015.  Presumably that date should be 2016.

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Susan B. Cassidy

Ms. Cassidy represents clients in the defense, intelligence, and information technologies sectors.  She works with clients to navigate the complex rules and regulations that govern federal procurement and her practice includes both counseling and litigation components.  Ms. Cassidy conducts internal investigations for government…

Ms. Cassidy represents clients in the defense, intelligence, and information technologies sectors.  She works with clients to navigate the complex rules and regulations that govern federal procurement and her practice includes both counseling and litigation components.  Ms. Cassidy conducts internal investigations for government contractors and represents her clients before the Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA), Inspectors General (IG), and the Department of Justice with regard to those investigations.  From 2008 to 2012, Ms. Cassidy served as in-house counsel at Northrop Grumman Corporation, one of the world’s largest defense contractors, supporting both defense and intelligence programs. Previously, Ms. Cassidy held an in-house position with Motorola Inc., leading a team of lawyers supporting sales of commercial communications products and services to US government defense and civilian agencies. Prior to going in-house, Ms. Cassidy was a litigation and government contracts partner in an international law firm headquartered in Washington, DC.