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U.S. gets new cyberterrorism security center

Its goal is to better protect critical private industries

By Todd R. Weiss
April 21, 2005 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - PHILADELPHIA -- A new private-sector cyberterrorism security center that aims to watch over much of the nation's critical business infrastructure with its own real-time cyberthreat-detection network opened here today at the University of Pennsylvania.
The Cyber Incident Detection Data Analysis Center (CIDDAC) was unveiled as a real-time defense against cybercrime and cyberterrorism for key businesses in the U.S. that could be targeted by terrorists.
Charles "Buck" Fleming, executive director of CIDDAC, said the organization is believed to be the first private, nonprofit group to set up a cybercrime-detection network outside of the government's own efforts to watch over critical business operations. The group's concern, he said, is that without constant monitoring, critical U.S. industries such as banking, transportation, energy, 911 services and water supply systems could be disrupted by terrorists or criminals -- with disastrous results for the country and the U.S. economy.
While government agencies such as the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security already get reports of cybercrime and cyberterrorism, the agencies aren't always able to respond to threats immediately because of red tape. And companies that are victims aren't always happy to share their information with the government, Fleming said.
"Eighty-five percent of all the [nation's] data is in the private sector, so we realized this has to be a private sector operation," he said. "Companies don't want the FBI looking at their information, even if they're not doing something wrong."
Fleming added, "We realized that coming down the road there are major potential problems that are not being addressed right now."
Under a pilot project, CIDDAC is offering its intrusion-detection services to critical industries using specially built Remote Cyber Attack Detection Sensor (RCADS) appliances that will be installed by the group outside of a business' corporate network, he said. The RCADS will be able to instantaneously and automatically report any attacks to the CIDDAC center, where the intrusion data can immediately be evaluated and quickly passed on to law enforcement agencies. The sensors are not connected to any actual corporate production systems but appear to intruders as just another machine on the network.
Law enforcement officials will be able to use the intrusion data to compile attack signatures, which provide government investigators with data so they can more quickly identify, locate and neutralize cyberthreats, according to the group.
John Chesson, a special agent at the FBI in Philadelphia, said the RCADS are essentially "hardened honeypots" that look like they are part of the network an intruder is trying to enter. When the RCADS are attacked, CIDDAC workers monitor the event and collect real-time

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