cloud (Singkham/

Updated TIC will smooth modernization

The federal government is revamping its policies around Trusted Internet Connection, to encourage greater cloud adoption – a major IT modernization goal.

The TIC 3.0 upgrade aims to develop viable use cases and guidance for agencies as they move more legacy applications to the cloud and manage a more mobile workforce. 

The push to refresh TIC is a reaction to the explosion of the popularity of cloud computing as well as the emergence of new cybersecurity programs, like Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation, that are not accounted for in current policy, according to Mark Bunn of the Federal Network Resilience Division at the Department of Homeland Security.

The White House IT modernization plan, released in December 2017, explicitly calls for an update to the TIC to facilitate cloud adoption.

The average agency currently uses eight different cloud service providers, and federal agencies as a whole use 228, Bunn said  a Jan. 30 FCW event on cloud security. Two-thirds of those instances are for software-as-a-service.

"We've definitely had some agencies that were very frank and outspoken. It's wonderful they were able to articulate just how bad things are at that level, to say this is causing me pain and…these are real problems for us," Bunn said after his presentation.

DHS is looking to address in "the trombone effect" -- the latency issues that occur when agencies attempt to access government data that is hosted off-premise. Users complain they have to triple bandwidth to support cloud applications, Bunn said. It's one of the most frequent complaints he hears from agencies.

The original TIC was developed in 2007 under the Bush administration, out of a desire to limit the number of access points from government networks out to the public internet.

Ari Schwartz, former senior director for cybersecurity on the National Security Council under the Obama administration, said that the original TIC architecture was not designed to serve a modern, cloud-based enterprise. The updated framework will likely take the TIC "in a much different direction," pushing more reliance on cloud and shared services as a way to bring agencies into compliance.

"If you think of shared services as being inside the agency wall, then [TIC 3.0] actually cuts down on the number of connections," said Schwartz. "It's a way of having extra added protection before you get to an individual user, certainly before you can steal a credential."

Bunn told reporters after his speech that DHS is basing its timeframes for TIC 3.0 around the deadlines established in the White House IT modernization plan. That document directs OMB to issue a preliminary update for the TIC policy, establish a comprehensive strategy for cloud email and collaboration and test out new requirements through a series of pilot projects by March 2, 2018. It also calls for OMB, DHS and the General Services Administration to deliver "rapid draft updates to the TIC policy" by June 30, 2018.

About the Author

Derek B. Johnson is a senior staff writer at FCW, covering governmentwide IT policy, cybersecurity and a range of other federal technology issues.

Prior to joining FCW, Johnson was a freelance technology journalist. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, GoodCall News, Foreign Policy Journal, Washington Technology, Elevation DC, Connection Newspapers and The Maryland Gazette.

Johnson has a Bachelor's degree in journalism from Hofstra University and a Master's degree in public policy from George Mason University. He can be contacted at, or follow him on Twitter @derekdoestech.

Click here for previous articles by Johnson.


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