Wireless security on Homeland Security's agenda

Trade groups are talking to Energy Department laboratories in what could be a yearlong effort to evaluate commercial wireless security.

Four groups in a public-private security forum'the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association, Telecommunications Industry Association, Information Technology Association of America and United States Telecom Association'have begun meeting with the National Infrastructure Simulation and Analysis Center and other Energy organizations, said Kathryn Condello, vice president of operations for CTIA.

The four groups are part of the Information Sharing and Analysis Center for the information and communications sectors. The ISAC currently has no industrywide way to review security gaps in the networks and services of wireless carriers. But that's just what the Homeland Security Department will likely need to know to toughen security as more government employees adopt mobile devices and agencies integrate wireless platforms into their programs.

Individual companies 'know what their problems are,' said Condello, who spoke yesterday on a panel about asset security at the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association's homeland security conference. But expanding individual assessments to a competitive telecom market with a half-dozen major carriers, each operating its own distinct network elements, is 'really tough,' Condello said. 'That's a lot of data points.'

She said HSD must consider how to fund such a vulnerability assessment. Although that is not in the purview of trade groups such as CTIA, Condello said, its insider knowledge could show the new department's leaders a clearer picture of the commercial wireless sector.

'We can scope this out for them so they know what they're up against,' she said.


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