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911 pilot tests emergency systems’ cyber defenses

To better protect emergency communications systems from cyberattacks, the Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate is expanding a pilot to test 911 infrastructure.

S&T is working with SecuLore Solutions to develop cybersecurity defenses based on predictive analytics that will help detect and mitigate attacks against legacy emergency communications systems as well as Next Generation 911 and IP-based technologies, agency officials said in an April 8 announcement. With S&T funding, the company is expanding its existing cybersecurity solutions to provide near-real-time behavioral threat analysis of network traffic at an emergency communications center (ECC) and recommended remediation strategies based on nature of the malware used.

The Emergency Services Department of Palm Beach County, Fla., is currently testing the technology, and the company plans to expand the pilot to five additional ECCs across the country over the next few months. Each pilot partner gets at least two months of assistance, including 24-hour oversight of the security operations center network, and a weekly vulnerabilities report, S&T officials said. Partners will also receive immediate notification of any critical vulnerability, and the company will ensure they understand the identified vulnerability and implement initial remediation steps.

During these pilots, the company will capture feedback and insights from frontline users on the solution’s performance and capabilities. The collected information will “guide the project’s next steps, most importantly the implementation of further refinements to SecuLore’s ECC cybersecurity solution that will maximize its effectiveness in safeguarding the nation’s emergency communications system from cyberthreats,” S&T Program Manager Norman Speicher said.

This S&T-managed project supports the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, which ensures public safety agencies have the necessary resources to support resilient, operable and advanced interoperable emergency communications, S&T officials said.

“Enhancements to cybersecurity of evolving NG911 systems, collaboration with our stakeholders, and improving access to 911 infrastructure are critical to defending public safety communications systems,” said Billy Bob Brown Jr., CISA’s executive assistant director for Emergency Communications.

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