United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team
The United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) is an organization within the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD). Specifically, US-CERT is a branch of the Office of Cybersecurity and Communications' (CS&C) National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center (NCCIC).
US-CERT is responsible for analyzing and reducing cyber threats, vulnerabilities, disseminating cyber threat warning information, and coordinating incident response activities.
The division brings advanced network and digital media analysis expertise to bear on malicious activity targeting the networks within the United States and abroad.
It is the 24-hour operational arm of the NCCIC which accepts, triages, and collaboratively responds to incidents, provides technical assistance to information system operators, and disseminates timely notifications regarding current and potential security threats, exploits, and vulnerabilities to the public via its National Cyber Awareness System (NCAS).
US-CERT operates side-by-side with the Industrial Control Systems Cyber Emergency Response Team (ICS-CERT) which deals with security related to industrial control systems. Both entities operate together within NCCIC to provide a single source of support to critical infrastructure stakeholders.
There are five operational aspects which enable US-CERT to meet its objectives of improving the nation’s cybersecurity posture, coordinate cyber information sharing, and proactively manage cyber risks while protecting the constitutional rights of Americans.
Threat Analysis & Information Sharing
This feature conducts technical analysis on data provided from partners, constituents, and monitoring systems to understand the nature of attacks, threats, and vulnerabilities, as well as develop tips, indicators, warnings, and actionable information to further US-CERT’s CND mission.
This feature conducts digital forensic examinations and malware artifact analysis (reverse engineering) to determine attack vectors and mitigation techniques, identifies possible threats based on analysis of malicious code and digital media, and provides indicators to mitigate and prevent future intrusions.
This feature informs the CND community on potential threats which allows for the hardening of cyber defenses, as well as, develops near real-time/rapid response community products (e.g., reports, white papers).
When a critical event occurs, or has been detected, Operations will create a tailored product describing the event and the recommended course of action or mitigation techniques, if applicable, to ensure constituents are made aware and can protect their organization appropriately.
This feature supports NCCIC information sharing, development, and web presence. It is responsible for establishing and maintaining assured communications, developing and disseminating information, products, and supporting the development and maintenance of collaboration tools.
This feature partners with foreign governments and entities to enhance the global cybersecurity defense posture. It supports bilateral engagements, such as CERT-to-CERT information sharing/trust building activities, improvements related to global collaboration, and agreements on data sharing standards.
A January 2015 report by Senator Tom Coburn, ranking member of the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, expressed concern that "[US-CERT] does not always provide information nearly as quickly as alternative private sector threat analysis companies".
- CERT Coordination Center
- Einstein (US-CERT program)
- National Infrastructure Security Co-ordination Centre
- "About the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center". Retrieved September 4, 2013.
- "US-CERT Infosheet Version 2" (PDF). Retrieved September 4, 2013.
- "US-CERT About Us". Retrieved September 4, 2013.
- "More Information about the Industrial Control Systems Cyber Emergency Response Team". Retrieved September 4, 2013.
- "US-CERT Home Page". Retrieved September 4, 2013.
- Coburn, Tom. (January 2015). "A Review of the Department of Homeland Security’s Missions and Performance". hsgac.senate.gov. Retrieved December 20, 2015.