How New Jersey fills the cyber info gap

When it comes to sharing information on cybersecurity threats and incident reporting, it's harder for small businesses to get access to the same intelligence that industry giants share internally and with the Department of Homeland Security.  To address that need, the New Jersey Cybersecurity & Communications Integration Cell was established in 2015 to give the small business community access to unclassified reports and threat profile information.

“The majority of our small- to medium-size businesses do not have a conduit to the federal government or intelligence agencies for information sharing,” New Jersey CTO Dave Weinstein said at the Nov. 15 Capital Cybersecurity Summit.  “They are our primary audience," along with New Jersey's main utility providers, he said.

The NJCCIC works to strengthen relationships with the business community “beyond the traditional channels,” which typically don’t provide timely information to smaller firms.  For example, large telecommunications companies like Verizon share information on threats weekly,  Weinstein said, but they don’t make the information available to wider business community.

Over the past 17 months, the cell has published briefs on denial-of-service attacks, ransomware and web application vulnerabilities, along with recommendations for next steps.

Weekly bulletins contain information on threats and malicious activity targeting networks in New Jersey.  Relevant threat alerts and data breach notifications are also sent out via email blasts.

Threat profiles on the NJCCIC website give businesses information on known Android and iOS malware, botnets, exploit kits, point-of-service malware, ransomware and Trojan variants.

States fusion centers are required to share information with the DHS' National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center, but Weinstein said his hope is for other states to adopt New Jersey’s model to share information with their local business communities as well.

As the head of the New Jersey Office of Information Technology, Weinstein is responsible for monitoring networks at 1,400 locations across the state. But his goal is to bring even more “hyperlocal and non-vertically aligned institutions” into the state’s information sharing hub.

“We digest a lot of information on threats on a daily basis that can serve as a valuable collection apparatus for New Jersey, small businesses and the federal government in some cases,” Weinstein said.  “We need to multiply this model across states and other common areas of interest … to standardize the form in which the data is shared.”

The NJCCIC is in the process of exploring how machine learning can help to share actionable cyber threat information.

“Some of those [information sharing] efforts are currently automated, and others are manually intensive,” Weinstein told GCN after the panel.  By eliminating some of "noise" in the cyber threat information, he said, we can "bring it down into something that can actually be analyzed and made sense of.”

About the Author

Sara Friedman is a reporter/producer for GCN, covering cloud, cybersecurity and a wide range of other public-sector IT topics.

Before joining GCN, Friedman was a reporter for Gambling Compliance, where she covered state issues related to casinos, lotteries and fantasy sports. She has also written for Communications Daily and Washington Internet Daily on state telecom and cloud computing. Friedman is a graduate of Ithaca College, where she studied journalism, politics and international communications.

Friedman can be contacted at sfriedman@gcn.com or follow her on Twitter @SaraEFriedman.

Click here for previous articles by Friedman.


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