[ISN] Alert System Sought for Internet Attacks

From: InfoSec News (isnat_private)
Date: Fri Oct 26 2001 - 02:55:06 PDT

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    By Ariana Eunjung Cha,
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Thursday, October 25, 2001; 7:31 AM
    OAKLAND, Calif., Oct. 23 News of cyberattacks, viruses and hoaxes
    often spreads through the computer security world in the same
    haphazard way as gossip. Jonathan Disher, who oversees the security
    network for Internet Pictures Corp., for instance, gets his
    information from several Web sites, two e-mail lists, pages and phone
    So far, he said his informal system has worked okay. But since Sept.
    11, Disher has been worried about how such a system would hold up
    under aggressive, targeted strikes by terrorist groups.
    "While we're not completely caught with our pants down, we're not as
    prepared as we should be," he said.
    Creating a "first alert" system for problems on the Internet has
    become a priority in recent weeks as the government has warned of
    possible attacks on the high-tech infrastructure. Richard A. Clarke,
    the adviser for cyber-security in the newly created Office of Homeland
    Security, has encouraged companies to create industry-specific
    information dissemination centers.
    Setting up such a system was the topic du jour in the hallways here at
    a meeting of nearly 600 computer administrators and security managers
    of some of the largest and most powerful high-tech companies in the
    country, such as Cisco Systems, Yahoo, America Online and Microsoft.
    Many like the idea of information centers, but say companies are
    reluctant to share information with others because they don't want to
    appear vulnerable or give information to competitors.
    "The biggest problem . . . is people don't trust each other," said
    Bill Yang, who works for a high-tech consultancy in Ohio.
    A public-private group called Infragard aims to change that. Created
    in January, it is coordinated by the FBI and its members include
    representatives from companies that run the nation's water,
    electricity, medical, communications and transportation systems. It
    has set up an e-mail list that allows people to report potential
    problems, even anonymously.
    In the meantime, Clarke and others have begun discussing additional
    ways to better prepare for a possible attack on computer systems. He
    has called for the creation of a second, more stable Internet for the
    government and he has proposed that emergency workers be given
    priority access to wireless communications during crises.
    Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), meanwhile, recently urged the government to
    establish a national technology corps to help during crises. The
    volunteers would stand ready with computer equipment, satellite
    dishes, wireless communicators and other equipment to quickly
    re-create and repair compromised communications and technology
    infrastructures. "What we're talking about is having the brains and
    trucks and routers in place just in case," Wyden said.
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