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March 18, 2004

Partnership calls for internet early warning system

The internet needs an early warning system to avoid or better respond to major distributed security incidents, a partnership of the IT industry and the US government concluded in a report out yesterday.

By CBR Staff Writer

One of five task forces operating under the umbrella of what is now called the National Cyber Security Partnership, published recommendations for how an Early Warning Alert Network (EWAN) should be set up by the government-funded US-CERT.

The report observes that there is a plethora of security information sharing alliances already (US-CERT, CERT/CC, various ISACs, CIAC, Infraguard, the NCC, to name only a handful) and that better coordination between them is needed.

EWAN is described as a meta-network of vetted existing and developing trust communities, such as ISACs and cyber security defense and response organizations and communities, which have member-vetting processes that meet minimum EWAN standards.

The network will issue daily summaries and ad hoc alerts to its members in its own protocol. Requirements will be defined before July. Beta testing is set to start October 1, with a production launch by December 3 this year, the NCSP said.

The NCSP only announced its existence yesterday, launching a web site at, but it springs out of the National Cyber Security Summit in December, which itself came out of the White House’s National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace.

At the Summit, coordinated by US-CERT, early warning was one of five areas identified where work needed to be done. Task forces were created for all five, and yesterday saw the first two groups report back.

Also reporting was the task force asked to look at ways to conduct outreach and education to internet stakeholders (see separate coverage in today’s ComputerWire). Reports from the remaining three task forces will all be out by early April.

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The early warning task force report says EWAN should be operated by US-CERT, and funded by the Department of Homeland Security and private sector contributions. The report says it expects strong collaboration between public and private sectors.

US-CERT, which coordinated December’s Summit and is the official bridge between the industry and the US government, is already funded by the DHS, and has Carnegie Mellon University’s CERT Coordination Center as an official partner.

In a separate report from the same early warning task force yesterday, it is recommended that the government set up a National Crisis Coordination Center, to act as a real-world focal point for the public-private partnership.

The report envisions a physically secure location, with a hot backup, funded by the government and staffed with a mix of government and private sector experts, who would each be provided and paid by their respective employers.

The task force was chaired by Computer Sciences Corp’s Guy Copeland, who is also a VP of the IT-ISAC, Suzanne Gorman, of SIAC and chair of the Financial Services ISAC, and Rich Pethia, Carnegie Mellon University and CERT/CC. About 30 other executives from well-known security and technology companies were also involved.

This article is based on material originally published by ComputerWire

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