Fla. IS director calls for state infrastructure alerts

Fla. IS director calls for state infrastructure alerts

Florida's Information Security Office director Scott McPherson wants to prepare for terrorist attacks that could wreak havoc on airports, water and utility plants, and a host of other public systems central to everyday life.

A critical infrastructure protection center would minimize such damage by alerting local, city and state police, emergency workers, infrastructure managers and certain private companies, McPherson told the Florida legislature's joint select security committee last week.

He urged approval and funding of such a center, which would provide communications through a secured Internet connection and other methods such as satellite phones. It should have four levels of redundancy, he said, so communications would continue no matter what.

'The communications center would help state and local governments and some in the private sector become more aware of threats to data that are both conventional and cyber,' he said.

McPherson, who was in charge of the state's year 2000 rollover, illustrated his point by telling lawmakers about a hacker who gained access to the systems infrastructure that controls California's electricity. He said Florida has had plans in place for cyberattacks for almost two years, but the communications center would permit better coordination.

TruSecure Corp. of Herndon, Va., will audit the cabinet-level agency's information security measures and provide alerts about viruses and software vulnerabilities, McPherson said. His office also is assembling a set of security procedures all agencies must follow.

'We are trying to take an enterprise approach to security,' he said. 'The challenge for state government is to engineer security from the top down. We also must engineer our disaster recovery and business coordination plans so we know how long it would take to get back to business.'

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