FirstNet Team Issues List of Cyber Concerns

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The nationwide public safety broadband network should be protected against cyberattack, but "not at the expense of public safety users’ ability to use the network," the new notice says.

A proposed broadband network for the nation's public-safety professionals must be robust against intrusions -- but not so much it prevents those professionals from accessing it in emergencies, according to a new notice from FirstNet, the federal group planning it. 

This is one of several requirements for the system's cyber protection, according to a new notice issued by FirstNet, an authority within the Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration. Others include online and offline device monitoring, a strong identity access management system, and support for wearable devices in the era of "bring your own" technology.

Against the backdrop of the recent Office of Personnel Management hack, which exposed personal information from more than 20 million people, "a cybersecurity solution that establishes a secure network at the cost of delays or needless hindrances is not workable, and neither is a solution that permits immediate access but fails to adequately secure data," the notice said. 

FirstNet is collecting input from the private sector, public-safety groups and other stakeholders on this addendum before it issues a request for proposals on the network. Last week, the FirstNet board, which includes members of the private sector, approved parts of the RFP, suggesting it is still on track for release by the end of 2015. 

The network must also be able to provide continuous connectivity to public-safety missions that move around geographically, the notice said. Proposed solutions must also consider external factors such as power failure, heating failure, physical alarm systems, low generator fuel and lost and stolen devices, among others. 

The system aims to include at least 60,000 public safety networks, 6,800 call centers and various radio access points throughout the country. 

Despite the threat of cyber intrusion, FirstNet emphasized in the notice the public-safety mission itself "takes primacy over the protection of the network."

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