DHS Wants to Expand the Reach of Its Critical Infrastructure Cyber Training


The department wants to be able to provide cyber training webinars to 5,000 simultaneous users.

The Homeland Security Department wants to surge its ability to train critical infrastructure owners and operators on cybersecurity, according to a contracting document released Wednesday.

The department is seeking a video conferencing service that it can use to provide cybersecurity webinars to 5,000 or more critical infrastructure operators simultaneously, according to the contracting document.

The term critical infrastructure refers to 16 sectors the government has determined are vital to the nation’s successful operation. They include hospitals, banks, energy plants, dams and transportation hubs such as airports and train stations.

The department officially designated election infrastructure, such as voting machines and voter rolls, critical infrastructure in January 2017, after Russian efforts to breach those systems during the 2016 elections.

Homeland Security already provides training webinars on a variety of cyber topics to critical infrastructure owners as well as to state and local governments using the Adobe Connect tool, but the current system can’t serve more than 500 simultaneous attendees, the contracting document states.

The document is a request for information, which means Homeland Security wants to know what companies have to offer but isn’t committed to purchasing anything yet.

The division managing the prospective contract, Homeland Security’s partnership and engagement branch, is also tasked with part of the department’s outreach to election operators.

Homeland Security did not spot any significant digital efforts to undermine midterm election votes Tuesday. The department’s top cybersecurity and infrastructure security official Chris Krebs has warned that Russia and other nations may be holding their best efforts until the 2020 presidential contest.

In addition to webinars and other training, Homeland Security offers election operators and other critical infrastructure providers numerous other cyber services. Those include penetration testing and security reviews and sensor networks that can spot nefarious efforts to access a computer system.