AT&T launches 'CNN for security geeks'

AT&T has developed a 24-hour Webcast modeled after TV news programs to provide its customers with up-to-the-minute information about cybersecurity threats.

The AT&T Internet Security News Network (ISNN) provides live data and streaming video featuring the company’s network security experts and forensic analysts. It is available to customers of AT&T Internet Protect, the company’s alerting and monitoring service.

“It’s CNN for security geeks,” said Ed Amoroso, vice president and chief security officer at AT&T and head of the project, which started airing Dec. 14.

AT&T monitors the Internet for security threats and realized it could offer its customers real-time warnings and advice to thwart cyberattacks, Amoroso said.

If AT&T sees a problem brewing, it can direct Internet Protect customers to the program’s portal, where the company provides forensic data and recommendations for action, he said.

ISNN provides twice-daily broadcasts and live emergency broadcasts that immediately follow security attacks . The service also includes a lecture series by AT&T security experts and interviews with corporate executives.

ISNN has been wildly successful and is watched daily by security staff at hundreds of companies, Amoroso said.

"Businesses and government entities need a variety of sources of information to be alerted to emerging threats and AT&T ISNN is one source of information with industry-leading experts regarding potential threats," said William Pelgrin, director of the New York State Office of Cybersecurity and Critical Infrastructure Coordination, in a statement. He is also chairman of the Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center, a nationwide partnership to share cybersecurity information.

AT&T began the venture by offering video announcements with text enhancements, Amoroso said. Customers kept asking for more because video provides more credibility to decision-makers than text does, he said.

AT&T chose the traditional TV format for another reason: Creating an around the clock television operation is a lot cheaper and more effective than staffing a help desk with experts, Amoroso said.

AT&T has hired broadcast reporters for some of the ISNN positions but most of the announcers actually work in AT&T’s Network Operations Center, Amoroso said. That helps correct a trend that upsets Amoroso: He said most tech reporting is inaccurate, late and “talks down to” the American public.

The success of ISNN has encouraged AT&T to consider providing it to the general public as a kind of cybersecurity C-Span, Amoroso said. The public could watch ISNN via IP television through broadband. The idea has gained popularity internally since AT&T merged with SBC Communications in November, he said.

The channel would appeal not only to the American public, but also to viewers in other countries as the global population becomes more tech-savvy, Amoroso said.

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