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Beginning in 2002, the CIAS began conducting a series of community and state cybersecurity exercises around the country. These were successful events in that participants went away having learned about issues related to the importance of cybersecurity within states and communities, and how important information sharing is in order to be able to address attacks involving more than one organization.

While participants learned about various cybersecurity issues, a common problem was a lack of understanding concerning where to start implementing a community-wide cybersecurity program. The CIAS studied this issue and determined what was needed was more specific guidance to help states and communities understand where to start and how to progress. This research resulted in the development of the Community Cyber Security Maturity Model (CCSMM), which provided both a way to measure the current maturity of the state’s or community’s program and guidance to know what steps they could take to improve.

Visit our Community Cyber Security Maturity Model page to learn how it can help create a comprehensive cybersecurity program in your community.

Cutting-edge Research Today

Since 2002, the CIAS has been creating cutting-edge training and research that doesn’t exist anywhere else, thanks, in part, to research focused on SLTTs. For example, research centered on the CCSMM, developed by the CIAS, has led to several FEMA Continuing Training Grant (CTG) courses. In 2019, research into the creation of a cyber annex for incident response led to the creation of a FEMA Continuing Training Grant course AWR-366W – Developing a Cybersecurity Annex for Incident Response. The ISAO SO effort and additional information sharing research has also recently led to the development of the FEMA CTG Course AWR-381W Establishing an Information Sharing and Analysis Organization. Additional research with communities and the ISAO SO has also led to the development of FEMA CTG Course MGT-473 Organizational Cybersecurity Information Sharing. More recently in 2020, the CIAS was awarded a grant by the Department of Homeland Security to develop a method for state, local, tribal and territorial governments to determine their High Value Assets (HVAs) to better focus their cybersecurity efforts where they are most needed. The CIAS developed guidance based on best practices to address the identification, categorization and prioritization of IT systems to enable increased protection of HVAs across various jurisdictions. This included the development of scalable guidelines, templates and tools that can be used to facilitate implementation of identified processes within the context of each community’s risk management framework, available resources and authorities.

Research Papers

Over the years, research conducted by the CIAS has led to multiple research papers being presented at the Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (HICSS). HICSS has been known worldwide as the longest-standing working scientific conferences in Information Technology Management. Since 1968, HICSS has provided a highly interactive working environment for top scholars from academia and industry from over 60 countries to exchange ideas in areas of information, computer and system sciences.

Harrison, Rutherford, White, “The Honey Community: Use of Combined Organizational Data for Community Protection”, Proceedings of the 48th Annual Hawaii International Conference on System Science, January 5-8, 2015, Grand Hyatt, Kauai, Hawaii. Read the Paper Here.

This paper focuses on how to determine the threat to a community and what indications and warnings can lead us to suspect an attack is underway. To try and help answer these questions, this research uses the concepts of Honeypots and Honeynets, extending them to a multi-organization concept within a geographic boundary to form a Honey Community. The initial phase of the research done in support of this paper was to create a fictitious community with various components to entice would-be attackers and determine if the use of multiple sectors in a community would aid in the determination of an attack. 

White, Sjelin, Harrison, “The Need for Information Sharing and Analysis Organizations to Combat Attacks on State and Community Public and Private Networks”, 52nd Annual Hawaii International Conference on Systems Science, January 9, 2019, Grand Wailea, Maui, HI.
Read the Paper Here.

This paper describes how a state or community can use the creation of an Information Sharing and Analysis Organization (ISAO) to jumpstart various aspects of its cybersecurity program, incorporating a number of established programs in a single initiative, to protect their computer systems and networks.

Goles, White, and Dietrich, “Dark Screen: An Exercise in Cyber Security”, University of Minnesota, June 2005. Read the Paper Here.

The digital age has transformed how organizations function. The production and delivery of essential goods and services is now highly dependent on the global information infrastructure: the complex and interconnected telecommunications networks and information systems owned and operated by a multitude of discrete organizations. Yet, this amorphous entity is beyond the control of individual organizations. This paper presents Dark Screen, a scenario-based exercise for identifying and assessing resources and capabilities useful in protecting the information infrastructure.

Granado and White, “Developing a Community Cyber Security Incident Response Capability”, 42nd Annual Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, 5-8 January 2009, Big Island, Hawaii.
Read the Paper Here.

Community leaders do not have direct control or authority over the many disparate organizations within a community but may reasonably be expected to direct the response to such an attack. This paper addresses this issue and makes various recommendations for what communities can do in preparing for a community response to a cyber-attack or incident.

Granado and White, “Cyber Security and Government Fusion Centers”, Proceedings of the 41st Annual Hawaii International Conference on System Science, 2008. Read the Paper Here.

The Department of Homeland Security has recommended the creation of State, Regional, and Community Fusion Centers. These centers, run by state and local governments, are designed to take what may seem to be disparate pieces of information on a variety of subjects and “fuse” them together to be able to recognize indicators of potential terrorist attacks. This paper discusses the need to develop a cyber capability in fusion centers and the importance of government involvement in coordinating a state’s, community’s, or region’s cyber defense efforts.

Sjelin and Dietrich, “Method to Identify High Value Assets for Small Government Agencies and Small to Mid-sized Organizations”.
Read the Paper Here.

Every organization has critical information and technology assets that are essential to their business operations and require enhanced security. Organizational resources that can be dedicated to cybersecurity are finite; therefore, those resources should be applied deliberately and strategically focusing on the most important assets. This paper will describe a method for identifying high value assets that can be integrated into an organization’s or agency’s cybersecurity program.

Did You Know?

When the CIAS was created in 2001, it received a total of $5 million from the Department of Defense through a grant sponsored by Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison to research cybersecurity. A large portion of this grant was intended to be used to help jumpstart the security program at The University of Texas at San Antonio. Research projects included topics like hardware-based intrusion detection, elliptic curve cryptography, detection of steganography and biometric access control methods.