Treasury to expand info center


The Treasury Department and industry partners plan to launch a new, expanded version of one of the leading mechanisms for sharing critical infrastructure alerts.

More than 50 financial institutions in 1999 formed the Financial Services Information Sharing and Analysis Center (FS/ISAC) following a Clinton administration recommendation that industry establish centers to share vulnerability information among themselves and their liaison federal agencies. The Financial Services center quickly became one of the ISACs held up as an example for other sectors because of its coordination and contract for centralized alerts and warnings.

To date, the center has been limited to data on cyberthreats, and has worked with only a few large institutions. Now Treasury expects the next-generation ISAC to serve a broader purpose, said Michael Dawson, the agency's deputy assistant secretary for critical infrastructure protection and compliance policy. He was speaking this week at a conference on critical financial infrastructure protection in Charlotte, N.C., organized by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.

"The next-generation FS/ISAC will include both cyber- and physical threat information; serve the entire sector, not just 56 large institutions; and deploy a secure, confidential technology platform where companies can exchange information in real time as they identify vulnerabilities, address the vulnerabilities and respond to attempts to exploit the vulnerabilities," he said.

The department is also:

* Creating the Financial and Banking Information Infrastructure Committee, and the Financial Services Sector Coordinating Council. Both will be made up of government and industry representatives, and will be working to identify and address vulnerabilities in the country's financial infrastructure.

* Signing an agreement with the Homeland Security Department to detail a financial services expert -- at first a Treasury official, and later a rotating official from other financial oversight agencies -- to DHS' Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection Directorate.

* Creating a secure network for communications between federal and state financial regulators, to be used for collaboration and response in times of crisis. It went through its first real-life test during the blackout in August.


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