Security info center gets $2 million

FS/ISAC

The Treasury Department on Tuesday signed a $2 million one-time contract to upgrade the Financial Services Information Sharing and Analysis Center (FS/ISAC), which serves as the central point for the sector's critical infrastructure warnings.

The center is one of many that industries and their government liaisons formed since 1998 to share vulnerability information and alerts when incidents occur that affect critical infrastructure, such as telecommunications and banking. The FS/ISAC was one of the first to be formed and experts have often held it up as an example for other sectors.

Money from Treasury will allow the center to expand to serve the entire financial industry, department officials said.

The $2 million is to be used specifically for upgrading the center. By the end of fiscal 2005, officials expect that the center will be funded entirely by membership fees, which range from $750 to $50,000 per year.

Upgrades include:

* Enhancing the network so it can serve more than 30,000 institutions in the financial sector — including banks, exchanges, insurance companies and others -- in addition to the current core group.

* Providing a secure, confidential forum for real-time information sharing.

* Adding data about physical threats to the cyberthreat information that the center handles.

* Including a Web-based warnings and alerts service, with a backup system in case the Internet itself is affected.

* Setting more than 16 performance metrics to determine the center's effectiveness and help assess the state of information sharing across the industry.

The Bush administration wants to use industry ISACs as the primary means for sharing information between government and the private sector, Robert Liscouski, assistant secretary for infrastructure protection at the Homeland Security Department, said last week at the National Cyber Security Summit in Santa Clara, Calif.

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