Feds Launch Cyber Alert System

In the wake of MyDoom, the Department of Homeland Security is launching a system for alerting users of Internet threats.

In the wake of this weeks devastating MyDoom worm attack, the Department of Homeland Security launched a National Cyber Alert System today to provide information on Internet threats to both the technical community and end users.


The information will be distributed via e-mail in two ways. First, on an event-driven basis, it will deliver advice on how to protect systems from viruses, worms and other attacks. Second, the DHS will send out periodic alerts on how to take precautions to better protect systems before they fall victim to attacks, said Amit Yoran, director of the National Cyber Security Division at the DHS.

The DHS is working with Symantec Corp. and other private organizations, linking a number of computer systems in several locations, Yoran said in a telephone conference this morning. The DHS plans to expand the number of collaboration points for the system, he said.

The cooperative effort will seek to measure threats on a variety of criteria and determine which information is most appropriate for distribution on a national level. Measurement criteria include a threats impact on infrastructure, its impact on national security, how widespread it is, how actively it is exploited and its visibility.

"Our cyber alert system is not intended to compete with the private sector," Yoran said. "This alert system is complementary to those mechanisms in the private sector."

The system focuses on education, prioritization and awareness, and will warn not only of attacks but also of computer fraud and DDoS (distributed denial of service) attacks, Yoran said.

"This is very much an iterative process," Yoran said. "We expect to enhance it over time."

Users can subscribe to the alert system at www.uscert.gov.