DOT forms cyberthreat alliance

The Transportation Department formed a partnership this week with the Airports Council International-North America, DOT's latest industry alliance to increase data sharing on information security threats.

Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta and ACI-NA president David Plavin agreed Tuesday to work closely to identify vulnerabilities in the aviation communications and information infrastructure, share threat information and develop a joint plan to protect the nation's aviation system from hacking and other attacks.

Airports are dependent on information systems for access control, baggage handling, automated voice flight information, navigational aids, reservations and ticketing, maintenance scheduling and gate scheduling, Plavin said in a DOT statement.

ACI-NA and DOT will create the agency's second Information Sharing and Analysis Center to help disperse information about information system attacks, such as the ILOVEYOU virus. The first ISAC was formed with the railroad industry through the Association of American Railroads in October. Both will serve as clearinghouses for receiving, analyzing and distributing critical data for protecting information systems. The two ISACs will work together and work with other transportation ISACs as they are formed, the DOT statement said.

Through the partnership, DOT and ACI-NA also will sponsor aviation industry workshops that will help raise awareness of information threats and vulnerabilities and begin developing strategies to address threats. FAA already is conducting its own information security awareness campaign for employees in all lines of FAA business under the leadership of Michael Brown, the FAA's information security director.

Plavin will be the aviation industry point of contact on aviation-focused critical infrastructure issues, and he will work with Rear Adm. Jim Underwood, director of the DOT Secretary's Office of Intelligence and Security.

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