Security groups call for crisis coordination center

National Cyber Security Partnership Web site

Two national task forces organized by the National Cyber Security Partnership called for a public awareness campaign, an early warning contact network and a national crisis coordination center to improve the nation's responses to cyber vulnerabilities, threats and incidents.

Created last December at the National Cyber Security Summit, the task forces released their recommendations today for improving the nation's cybersecurity defenses. The National Cyber Security Partnership was formed to bring together private organizations and government agencies.

No price tag was attached to the task forces' suggestions, but establishing a national crisis coordination center by 2006 most likely would require legislation or an executive order. Guy Copeland, who led the Early Warning Task Force, said the center would coordinate threat analyses, warnings, research and responses for critical infrastructure-sector experts and federal, state and local officials. Copeland is vice president of information infrastructure advisory programs for Computer Sciences Corp.'s federal-sector business.

The center would "bridge some cultural barriers that have hampered a true partnership in counterterrorism and cybersecurity," the task force report said.

The early warning contact network, to be set up as early as December, would be a multichannel network housed and administered by the Homeland Security Department's U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team. Communication would occur primarily via the Internet, although task force leaders recommended having a backup means of communicating if the Internet goes down.

Other recommendations of the task forces would be relatively inexpensive and easy to achieve. The Common Sense Guide to Cyber Security for Small Businesses, prepared by the Internet Security Alliance, is already available and free for downloading. The Awareness and Outreach Task Force has as one of its initial goals to reach 50 million households.

Reaching home users will be accomplished largely through the cooperation of Internet service providers who would keep their customers informed of cybersecurity threats and attacks, task force leaders said.

The task force also recommended reaching corporation executives through a series of regional homeland security forums with DHS officials, beginning in September, and through a direct-mail campaign, to begin in July. Both the forums and the mailings would emphasize the role of senior corporate executives in securing cyberspace.

As a strategy to extend cybersecurity awareness to state and local governments, the outreach task force recommended holding DHS forums with governors and mayors, similar to the forums that will be held with industry leaders.

The cybersecurity partnership, headed by the Business Software Alliance; the Information Technology Association of America; TechNet, a chief executive officers group; and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, includes academic, corporate, government and industry cybersecurity experts.

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