Joint venture reports on cyberthreats

Infrastructure Defense Inc. (iDefense) and Oxford Analytica this month forgeda joint venture that will offer defense and intelligence agencies and commercialfirms comprehensive global intelligence reports dealing with the protectionof critical electronic infrastructures.

The memorandum of understanding signed between the two companies willbring iDefense's expertise of information warfare threats together withOxford Analytica's global network of academic expertise in political andeconomic risk analysis to produce strategic-level reports focusing on cyberthreats.

"Our mission has always been to gather information, sanitize it andpush it out in a very tailored way to our clients," said James Adams, chiefexecutive officer of iDefense. "However, government agencies see a needfor knowledge that they currently don't have access to, and they need itwith the proper amount of context."

Oxford Analytica's expertise in the political and economic ramificationsof cyberthreats and incidents will provide that context, he said.

Alexandria, Va.-based iDefense offers government agencies, includingmany Defense Department and intelligence agencies, network penetration testingand analysis and programming expertise, Adams said. The company also dedicates10 people to an operations center that it plans to make into an around-the-clockservice where clients can get real-time updates on cyber-related threatsand incidents. With the addition of Oxford Analytica, those updates alsowill include on-the-spot consultation with political and economic expertsthat can place the event in a strategic framework.

An example of the type of framework that Oxford Analytica can provideto iDefense's cyberthreat assessments would be an analysis of whether theChinese government is prepared to use its military's cyber capabilitiesagainst Taiwan, said David Young, managing director of Oxford Analytica.Oxford Analytica's resources include a cadre of at least 50 professors fromOxford University in England who specialize in political and economic analysis,as well as more than 1,000 professors from other major universities in theworld. Most of Oxford Analytica's client base receives the company's productsvia the Internet, and users can elect to receive e-mail updates on newlyavailable products and analyses.

According to Adams and Young, clients pay for these services and productsbased on their needs. Some clients receive products on a regular basis,while others prefer to get them intermittently, Adams said.

While analysts estimate that information security services representa multibillion-dollar market, the demand for outsourcing of critical infrastructurethreat assessments is growing, particularly since government agencies andcompanies worldwide have increasingly fewer resources to dedicate to thetask, Adams said.

Michael Kush, chairman of the Government Electronics and InformationTechnology Association's (GEIA) defense team, said the intelligence community'snet budget level remains roughly the same as it was five years ago. Buthe added that information assurance services, particularly those relatedto outsourcing, represent one of the major growth areas for industry."[Users] cannot do the number of vulnerability assessments required," saidKush, speaking last week at GEIA's annual budget forecast conference. "Theyneed certified vendors who can help them."

GEIA estimates that the intelligence community will invest $2 billionover the next 10 years in information assurance research, procurement andoperations.

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