October 31, 2009

Facility Will Coordinate Nation’s Cybersecurity

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano cut the ribbon Friday on a high-security, state-of-the-art unified command center that will coordinate the nation's cybersecurity efforts.

The National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center (NCCIC), located in an Arlington, Virginia, will "address threats and incidents affecting the nation's critical information technology and cyber infrastructure," the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said.

The facility will serve as the "central repository" for the cyber protection efforts of the civilian side of the federal government and its private sector partners.

"Securing America's cyber infrastructure requires a coordinated and flexible system to detect threats and communicate protective measures to our federal, state, local, and private sector partners and the public," said Secretary Napolitano.

"This will be a 24/7, 365-day-a-year facility to improve our national efforts to prepare and respond to threats and incidents affecting critical information technology and communications infrastructure," Napolitano said.

"Consolidating our cyber and communications operations centers within the NCCIC will enhance our ability to effectively mitigate risks and respond to threats."

The center is located in an office building, and includes a long narrow room with large wall-mounted video screens displaying various maps and threat information.  Dozens of computer workstations with multiple screens face the wall-mounted video displays.

The NCIC "provides an integrated incident response facility to mitigate risks that could disrupt or degrade critical information technology functions and services, while allowing for flexibility in handling traditional voice and more modern data networks," the DHS said.

The unified operations center combines two of DHS' operational organizations: the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT), which leads a public-private partnership to protect and defend the nation's cyber infrastructure, and the National Coordinating Center for Telecommunications (NCC), the operational arm of the National Communications System.

US-CERT currently partners with private sector firms such as telecommunications providers and others in monitoring cyber threats.

The NCCIC will also integrate the National Cybersecurity Center (NCSC), which coordinates operations among the six largest federal cyber centers.

Attending the ribbon-cutting ceremony was Lieutenant General Keith Alexander, director of the super-secret National Security Agency (NSA) and the head of military cybercommand.

The opening of the NCCIC marks the culmination of "National Cybersecurity Awareness Month."


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