New TIC Guidelines to Support Emerging Technologies, DHS Official Says

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With new guidelines on the horizon for the Trusted Internet Connections (TIC) initiative, the Department of Homeland Security is looking to design recommendations that allow for the employment of future technologies while maintaining acceptable levels of risk, said TIC Program Manager Mark Bunn during the FCW Accelerate GOV conference on Thursday.

“We’re really pushing to redefine TIC. We’ve had a number of conversations where we said ‘should we even call it TIC anymore’ because it’s going to be so different,” said Bunn. He noted that currently, his team is referring to the project as TIC 3. “We’re making progress towards being unique and different enough that it will support what you’re doing and support future technologies.”

Bunn pointed out that the program was designed in 2008, and has since been surpassed by technologies such as cloud computing.

“How do you apply a boundary program to try to leverage data and use data where there is no such thing as a boundary anymore? We actually want to encourage adoption of new ways of doing things,” he said.

While the TIC 3 program is still in the “pre-decisional” phase, Bunn described how his team is approaching the update.

“We’re looking very closely at, what were the decisions made in 2008? Why did we make those decisions? What was the purpose behind those decisions? And then, moving that forward into today, answer the same questions by taking the technology off the table and asking, ‘does this still keep you up at night?’ And our agencies come back and tell us,” said Bunn.

Looking to the future of the program, Bunn described a different approach to the risks posed by new technologies.

“Technology always outraces our ability to protect ourselves from technology. The first time we invented fire, we got burned by that fire, and we know that’s going to happen with future technologies as well,” he said. “You’re not going to prevent whatever’s going to happen next, but you can absolutely figure out how we’re going to respond to that if that happens.”

What does all of this mean for the future of TIC?

“So far, I haven’t seen anything that’s a significant technology change. I would say most everything is process change,” added Bunn. “Yes, we have a hammer, yes, we’re still hammering nails, but now the question is, what are we making out of this hammer and nails?”

With new guidelines on the way, that question will have its answer soon enough.

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