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Federal Internet Monitoring Center

...It's No Savior

In an effort to increase our Homeland Security the Bush administration has been designing and building an Internet monitoring center. Since Internet security is a big problem, the feds have decided that it must be part of their terrain.

Global Early Warning Information System -- Gee-Whiz!

This "Global Early Warning Information System," (pronounced "gee-whiz") has been under development since late 2001, and is being built by the National Communications System (pronounced "NCS") -- the DOD (Department of Defense) agency that has been tasked with assuring government communications during national emergencies.

Privacy Issues

The government has been accused by civil libertarians of amassing too much information, and having intrusive tactics. The "Carnivore" system designed and used by the FBI is installed at ISPs (Internet Service Providers) and can monitor all of the traffic flowing through their networks. [For the FBI's take, look at Carnivore Diagnostic Tool.]

According to the Washington Post "The agency now receives data from several key telecom and Internet service providers, and in [March] hopes to launch the first stage of its pilot project, which will combine the information into a graphical view of the health of the Internet."

Good for Business?

Privacy issues aside, what good will this system be for small businesses or home users? Monitoring a large part of the Internet traffic will certainly help them examine patterns that may indicate a large scale attack. For the most part, however, large-scale attacks are not what create security problems for businesses. Every-day Script Kiddies, Viruses and worms. This new bureaucracy is unlikely to be of much help.

The Solution

Mainstream Security Services' R. Craig Peterson warns "the only effective way to secure your business or home systems is via a complete security system. This includes a pro-active firewall, in-band monitoring intrusion detection system, and sentries monitoring individual servers. Using a comprehensive, unified approach, Mainstream not only provides the hardware and software, but also all of the services that small business needs to properly protect its networks and servers. This federal government program will help with national-scale attacks, but won't help the little guy."

Check out

What to do?

  • Cover the security basics.
  • Install a firewall.
  • Install an intrusion detection system.
  • Configure it properly. This is hard to do. Most firewalls are not properly configured.
  • Keep it up-to-date on a daily basis.

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