Cybersecurity coalition proposes early warning network

A coalition of public- and private-sector organizations plans to have an Early Warning Alert Network in operation by the end of the year to give industry and government officials advance notice of vulnerabilities and threats to the nation's critical IT infrastructure.

The proposal was the first product of the four-month-old National Cyber Security Partnership. NCSP was created by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the IT Association of America, TechNet and the Business Software Alliance at a conference with the Homeland Security Department in December.

The partnership established five task forces to come up with plans for implementing the National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace, released last year. Initial plans for early warning and for awareness and outreach were released Thursday. Further plans will be released later this month and in April.

Initial plans for the early warning network outline a concept but not the technology. It would be coordinated by the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team and would serve a trusted community of security experts who would receive confidential information about threats before its release to the public. It would have a layered structure, with levels of information available for different job descriptions, from chief-level officers to IT administrators and managers.

The network would have multiple channels of communication, including telephone conference calls and the Internet, backed up by out-of-band radio channels for emergency use. NCSP expects to have a beta system in operation by October, with a full rollout in December.

A National Crisis Coordination Center is a more long-range goal. It would be overseen by a congressionally chartered nonprofit corporation and would house government, industry and academic security experts. The center would monitor activity and coordinate emergency response. The task force recommended that Congress consider the structure of the center this year and pass authorizing legislation in 2005.

Full reports on NCSP recommendations are available at www.cyberpartnership.org.

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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