Fitting IT into homeland security

Gilmore Commission site and report

The final report from the Gilmore Commission on the capabilities needed to respond to terrorism mirrors many of the cybersecurity and information technology recommendations to emerge since the Sept. 11 attacks.

The group -- established in 1998 as part of the Defense Authorization Act -- released an executive summary of the report in November. The full report, released Dec. 15, goes into much more depth about how IT fits into the country's protection.

Technology is mentioned throughout the report as a key component in homeland security. This includes improvements to health communication networks so that information is shared among federal, state and local health departments and emergency management agencies.

"We must continue to seek innovative ways to use our superior technological capability to our advantage and to deny its use to potential adversaries," the report states as part of its look to the future. "Better use of technology for positive identification and for knowledge management should be at the top of the list."

To enhance cybersecurity capabilities, the commission recommends that representatives from all levels of government be included in the Critical Infrastructure Protection Board. An outside source to advise and evaluate agency programs is also necessary, according to the commission, which recommends that Congress create another independent commission that will report to both the president and Congress.

The report addresses wide concern about the effectiveness of the National Infrastructure Protection Center. The NIPC is one of the organizations that coordinates security activities, but many worry that its placement within the FBI keeps it from sharing information.

The commission recommends that the president establish a government-funded, non-profit entity, with representatives from all affected public- and private-sector organizations, to provide cyber detection, alert and warning functions.

Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore is chairman of the commission, which is also known as the Advisory Panel to Assess Domestic Response Capabilities for Terrorism Involving Weapons of Mass Destruction.

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