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Cyber Security Takes a ‘Team’ Approach

by christian on September 27, 2010

By Kevin Coleman — Defense Tech Cyberwarfare correspondent

Protecting and ensuring the integrity and continuity of the United States’ critical infrastructure is essential to our nation’s security, public health and safety, as well as our economic vitality. Last week General Keith Alexander, director of the new U.S. Cyber Command and the National Security Agency, acknowledged the need to enhance the security of our critical infrastructure. He is strongly advocating a “secure, protected zone” that encapsulates our critical infrastructure.

According to DHS, critical infrastructure (CI) are the assets, systems, and networks, whether physical or virtual, so vital to the United States that their incapacitation or destruction would have a debilitating effect on security, national economic security, public health or safety, or any combination thereof.

This is a single component of what has been called a “team approach” to helping protect the nation’s critical infrastructure from devastating cyber attacks. Back in July of this year the GAO issued a report titled — CRITICAL INFRASTRUCTURE PROTECTION: Key Private and Public Cyber Expectations Need to Be Consistently Addressed.

GAO Cyber Security

This report is an interesting read; however, it needs much more input from the owners and operators of our critical infrastructure of which the private sector owns about 85 percent of the assets. Some pundits point out that public private partnerships do not have a track record of success and add in the military, this partnership will be a huge challenge!

FACT: The military uses an incident command system that is totally different from the one used by DHS, the offices of emergency services in each state and what is used by the private sector.

FACT - The Department of Homeland Security has a database containing over 80,000 components of the U.S. critical infrastructure.

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

ohwilleke September 27, 2010 at 8:04 pm

I am being naiive or can you create a "secure protected zone" simply by disconnecting a computer system from the Internet (while keeping the LAN), and using telephones manned by human beings with recognize each other's voices and know each other to keep them networked to the larger world suffiicent?

My sense is that Internet connections, while nice, are mostly just convenience features for the kinds of "critical infrastructure" that we're talking about. You don't need it to run the Hoover Dam, or control of nuclear reactor, or operate traffic lights, or operate hospital equipment.

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john September 29, 2010 at 3:33 pm

I'd say you are being a bit naive. It's just not that simple. Hospitals need access to medical records, digital imagery from x-rays, cat scans, MRI's etc., hospital availability so they can divert patients when they're overloaded. Traffic lights route traffic more efficiently when they know the surrounding traffic conditions and power production is more efficient when you can coordinate production.

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jsallison September 27, 2010 at 9:45 pm

Not meaning to quibble or anything but Gen Alexander’s aide needs a good hammering, err, counseling. Could not one of the losers, all army active duty, I presume, have knocked his stupid ARCOM back into line? Jeebus, kids these days. No standards.

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jsallison September 27, 2010 at 9:46 pm

one of the losers at the photo shoot, that is. I blame bourbon and branch in my case. What’s *their* excuse?

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jsallison September 28, 2010 at 7:54 pm

And if that’s his official DA photo, lord, take me now. It’s over. Don’t make me come back on active duty for trivial BS like this.

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john September 29, 2010 at 3:21 pm

The DHS database is called ACAMS http://www.dhs.gov/files/programs/gc_119072972445

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roland October 2, 2010 at 2:24 am

I think Cyber Security is good and recomendable only against the enemy of the States and Country. Like against foreign hacker, al-quida, terrorist, rougue nation who wanted to hack in the government system.

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