What Does The Department of Homeland Security Do To Protect Your Cyber Assets?

As we inch toward the somber 10th anniversary of 9/11, many businesses are paying special attention to what President Obama calls “one of the most serious economic and national security threats our nation faces”– cyber security.

On the national level, it’s the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) job to keep your business infrastructure safe. But how, exactly, does it do this? And how can YOU, as an aware businessperson and citizen, get the most out of DHS services?

Since this is the government, it does its job through divisions — three main ones, in this case — with each running its own programs.

1. The National Communications System protects our telecommunications and wireless infrastructure (big ongoing job).

2. The Office of Emergency Communications, which was established after Katrina, is in charge of communications during emergencies.

3. And the National Cyber Security Division (NCSD) is the one that works closely with the private sector. It identifies and analyzes threats and vulnerabilities before they become problems (or catastrophes), and runs a lot of programs designed to prepare, alert and respond to cyber attacks. It’s also in charge of the CyberCop Portal, a collaboration tool that allows different law enforcement agencies to share information and work together.

And then there’s the Office of Cybersecurity and Communications — an organization unto itself — that works across all three divisions, running awareness programs and major preparedness drills like Cyber Storm.

But it’s the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT), a program under NCSD, that you can interact with directly.

US-CERT makes cyber security information available online and in your inbox. Do you want to know about current security alerts and current activity? Get security tips delivered to your inbox? Sign up for security alerts and bulletins. Want to know how US-CERT is working with your industry or want to participate as a partner? Check out this FAQ. Want publications specifically for home, corporate and other non-technical users? It’s all online, including ways to report incidents like phishing and potential vulnerabilities.

But be aware: some sites linked to DHS sites (not the ones listed above) have downloadable PDFs that are as old as 2003 — ancient history in the IT world!