Cybersecurity for Emergency Communications

Author: Patrick Flynn, Director, Homeland/National Security Programs, Intel Security

New broadband and IP-based systems will be a boon to public safety agencies, but convenience cannot come at the expense of security. The purpose of these systems is to increase availability; however, that availability should not compromise their security.

“There are policies and technological capacities we must consider for agencies and emergency responders who use these systems. Guidelines and processes need to be crafted, and the unique tools available to address these growing matters need to be explored and discussed,” said Industry Council for Emergency Response Technologies (iCERT) Chairman Darrin Reilly, chief operating officer of TriTech Software Systems.

Intel Security has been grappling with this since before FirstNet — a first-of-its-kind dedicated broadband network for public safety — was conceived. And that is why we are proud to chair the iCERT Cyber & ICT Security Committee. The primary function of the committee is to examine issues related to the protection, stability, and authentication of public safety information and communications systems, devices, processes, programs, and networks. We look to expand the conversation already underway by hosting an event in March.

iCERT will convene the Forum on Cyber Security for Emergency Communications event in Silicon Valley, March 2–4, to foster examination, coordination and collaboration on matters of information and communications security related to public safety and emergency communications systems in the near term and into the future. The event will feature officials from FirstNet, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the Integrated Justice Information Systems (IJIS) Institute, and state and local government agencies, as well as participants from Lockheed Martin, Intrado, and other technology industry leaders. The agenda will cover important security issues, including:

· Security Architecture Considerations for Next Generation First Responder Networks

· Use Cases for Security Concerns: Perspectives from the First Responder Community

· Role of National Policy in Protection of Emergency Service Networks

· Leveraging Secure Cloud Services for First Responder Networks

· Emergency Communications and Chip Development Requirements

It is important to have these discussions now, because if we’re going to build a network for public safety, we have to make sure network and device security are primary considerations during the design phase. Not only will building security in at the beginning make the security better and more robust, but it also will drive down enterprise cost; a little bit of investment on the front end can save potentially millions of dollars on the back end. And what’s more, law enforcement and other first responders can have actionable information at their fingertips quickly, efficiently, and securely. This kind of deep-level security — covering the network, devices and apps — can quickly identify and remediate threats while allowing the access and availability first responders need.