In an effort to create greater cooperation between the U.S. government and the private sector in protecting information of critical infrastructures and in motivating companies and institutions to more reliably report intrusions on their networks, after the September 11 attacks the FBI began to offer both identity protection and important exploit information to the private sector in exchange for information regarding cyber attacks and security breaches. The reporting, it was said, would be done under an enhanced program called InfraGuard. The FBI enhanced its call for cooperation from industry after the number of firms attending Infraguard meetings (held quarterly) tripled following the terrorist attacks. It was clear, said the FBI, that there was a greater willingness for the FBI, information systems security experts, and business leaders to communicate more freely about the security issues they were experiencing.
The FBI said that the threat of a major cyber attack is not fictional, for many cyber attacks occur in industry daily. Also, every day new worms and viruses are reported by security firms such as SANS, and therefore many more solutions must be developed by those in the information security field to save information systems from being severely adversely impacted—or from being shut down altogether.
Though more than 90% of enterprise security survey respondents have consistently reported having computer security breaches with substantial financial losses within the past few years, companies and information security experts are keen to get information about the security problems other companies are experiencing but seem reluctant—as the CSI/FBI survey repeatedly confirms—to report their own breaches. The reasons cited are that companies fear giving their competitors an advantage by “owning up” to the breaches, and they worry about the bad publicity and lack of consumer confidence that will ensue with the release of such information.
For these reasons, the FBI is now asking companies to work with consultants in InfraGuard to prevent such breaches by sharing information. Trust seems to be the big key in advancing the information-sharing push. The basic premise, of course, is that increased information sharing between business enterprises and federal authorities will enhance efforts to thwart crackers. FBI agents have noted that the situation existing today is indeed a dynamic one, for crackers and cybercriminals continually improve, amend, and disguise their means of operating. So, the more “eyes” there are “on the scene,” so to speak, the better the security should become. The consultants in InfraGuard said that for the companies choosing to work with them, they will provide up-to-the-minute technical information on how to cope with detected and reported security breaches.
Bruck, M. The Key to Eradicating Viruses and Bugs. [Online, August 5, 2002.] Entrepreneur.com Inc. Website. http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/0,4621,302155,00 .html.