FTS takes command of federal security hotline

The General Services Administration has chosen Carnegie Mellon University’s
Computer Emergency Response Team Coordination Center to staff a government computer
security hotline.

The Pittsburgh CERT, together with the Energy Department’s Computer Incident
Advisory Capability group, has been handling the hotline under a two-year Federal Computer
Incident Response Capability pilot.

A FEDCIRC Management Center will be set up within FTS’ Office of Information
Security, said Judith Spencer, director of the office’s Center for Governmentwide

The program will operate, at least initially, with existing staff and provide free
initial response services, plus contracts for fee-based recovery services.

FEDCIRC, established in 1996 with $2.8 million from the Government Information
Technology Services Innovation Fund, gives agencies a way to report and respond to system
intrusions, viruses and other security problems.

NIST initially fostered the program. It later subcontracted the work to Carnegie
Mellon’s Software Engineering Institute CERT, Energy’s CIAC and the Defense
Advanced Research Project Agency’s CERT.

The Chief Information Officers Council asked GSA to take over FEDCIRC management.

From October 1997 through February 1998 the Carnegie Mellon CERT handled 159 incidents
at Internet sites within the .gov domain. Some of the incidents compromised thousands of
sites and hosts, CERT said.

Beginning in October, the CERT-managed hotline will handle initial incident reports and
act as a triage center for first-response assistance, Spencer said.

Agencies also can get free alert bulletins and training from the FEDCIRC Management

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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