Task Force Releases Report on Computer Security and Privacy

Posted: April 21, 2000 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Becky Bishop

George Mason University has devoted considerable resources to the area of information technology for supporting both instruction and research. As the number of people taking advantage of these information technology tools has increased, the number of reported abuses has risen dramatically. The past year alone has seen a sharp rise in intrusions, break-ins, and service disruptions. The Task Force on Information Security and Privacy, headed by Peter Denning, Computer Science, was formed to conduct a risk assessment and make recommendations for reducing the risk of computer security incidents. The findings and recommendations of the task force have been released in a report titled “Battening the Hatches.”

The highest-priority recommendation in the report is to hire a chief information security officer to head an Information Security Office. The chief information security officer will be responsible for managing and coordinating the university’s readiness to protect computing resources and data, as well as the university’s response to computer security incidents. To assist in this operation, the task force also has recommended the purchase of a state-of-the-art “intrusion and vulnerability detection system.” These two recommendations are the only ones that would require new resources.

The majority of the task force recommendations can be adopted within the next six months from resources that have already been allocated for IT purposes. The adoption of a George Mason information policy heads the list of these recommendations. Other recommendations deal with policies, certifications, and practices to minimize risk to our computer systems; guidelines, training, and certification for the people using and administering our systems; and designing and providing an authentication service for the university’s computer network systems.

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