DOD database to battle cybercrime
- By George I. Seffers
- Nov 05, 2000
The Defense Department is on the verge of completing a common database to
aid the defense and intelligence communities in battling cybercrime, said
the new commander of the Pentagon's Joint Task Force for Computer Network
The database will enable those involved in Computer Emergency Response
Teams (CERTs) across DOD, intelligence agencies and the FBI to share information
critical to protecting their networks against intruders.
The database is in the final stages of development and likely will be
operational in early 2001, said Maj. Gen. James Bryan, who commands the
"Having the ability to create a common database and to share that database
allows us to take advantage of modern Web techniques in regard to management,
reporting and alerting," said Bryan, who also is the vice director of the
Defense Information Systems Agency.
One of the main benefits of a shared database, according to Bryan, is
that it will enable the department to detect patterns of activity, enabling
"us to do a much better job of understanding and describing what's going
on and taking the proper actions to counter it.
"Also, I think a shared database allows people to do what humans do
best, and that is to share ideas," he said. "The really qualified people
in this computer network warfare business are a fairly small community of
experts, and this database will provide them [with] a forum and opportunity
not only to share data but to share ideas as well."
One network security professional said it is a good idea for the military
CERTs to share information about military-specific vulnerabilities and
solutions. But he also noted that network vulnerability information is available
from numerous sources, most of which simply repeat the same information.
"We have created this whole massive CERT information-sharing thing with
greater and longer tentacles, but simply sharing information is not the
last, ultimate solution," said Fred Villella, president of New Dimensions
International, a network security firm.
The database is only one of several initiatives the task force is undertaking
to build its arsenal of cyberwarfare weaponry. Other efforts include developing
automated technologies for monitoring the network, reporting intrusions
and improving response time.
"We've got to develop more real-time intrusion detection and ways of
reporting without becoming intrusive ourselves," Bryan said. "We're developing
technology that will allow us to automatically sense whether our firewalls
have the right configuration within them or whether the antivirus updates
are in fact up-to-date."
The JTF-CND was formed in 1998. Although it is housed within DISA, the
task force falls under the authority of U.S. Space Command, which officially
took on responsibility for computer network attacks in October.
Although some have criticized the Pentagon for placing the JTF-CND within
DISA, Bryan said the connection is critical.
"In some ways, the organization marriage that was achieved by establishing
the vice director of DISA as the command of JTF-CND was a master stroke.
I could not do my job as the commander of the joint task force without the
support of DISA," he said.