Computer Readiness Team adds services

The Homeland Security Department's U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) will offer federal agencies expanded cybersecurity alerts and threat management services as a result of an agreement that Symantec officials announced this week.

The contract with Symantec will give federal employees who are designated as first responders in their agencies greater access to advanced warnings about cyberattacks. With such early warnings, network and computer security managers often can block incoming worm or virus attacks before they cause damage or disrupt computer network services.

"We're been working for some time with public- and private-sector partners to build a better understanding of what we need by way of cyber situational awareness," said Andy Purdy, acting director of the National Cyber Security Division in DHS' Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection Directorate.

Under the agreement, contractors working for DHS will integrate Symantec's DeepSight Alert Services and DeepSight Threat Management System into US-CERT's threat and analysis Web portal.

Symantec's threat management system tracks cyberattacks globally by analyzing sensor data from firewalls and intrusion-detection systems in more than 180 countries. The system gathers such data from about 20,000 sensors, said Oliver Friedrichs, senior manager at Symantec’s security response business unit.

Symantec's alert services notify subscribers about active threats that exploit specific software and hardware vulnerabilities. The alerts are tailored to subscribers' hardware and software configurations. Symantec monitors more than 18,000 software and hardware products and versions of those products from about 4,000 vendors, Friedrichs said.

Cybersecurity officials who are members of the federal Government Forum of Incident Response and Security Teams will use the new alert and threat management services, along with existing government and commercial services, to protect federal agency networks and computer systems.

"We've arranged through this contract to make the services available to each team of first responders in the federal government," Purdy said. Nearly 500 employees are assigned to those teams.

Rutrell Yasin also contributed to this story.

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