September 07, 2007

Financial institutions will now have increased access to physical and cyber threat information via a new partnership between the Financial Services Information Sharing and Analysis Center (FS-ISAC) and MessageOne. FS-ISAC has expanded its partnership with MessageOne -- an Austin, Texas-based provider of business continuity, E-mail management and crisis management solutions -- to offer the vendor's AlertFind emergency notification service to FS-ISAC's members at a discounted fee.

Earlier this year, FS-ISAC selected MessageOne's AlertFind to communicate urgent security alerts to its more than 4,000 financial institution members. The system is used to notify members of significant threats, including natural disasters, coordinated cyber attacks, disease outbreaks or specific acts of terrorism. With AlertFind, FS-ISAC can instantly contact its members using their preferred contact method, including mobile and other phone lines and E-mail.

By extending the service, FS-ISAC's financial institution members now will be able to use the MessageOne service for internal alerts within their own organizations, according to Bill Nelson, president and CEO of FS-ISAC. "Our board was so happy with the quality of service [that] they asked if we could talk MessageOne into offering it to all of our members," he relates.

AlertFind will allow FS-ISAC members that purchase the system to instantly deliver security- and business continuity-related messages to employees. The system, which can discern between a live person and voice mail, can deliver a spoken message and even ask questions, such as, "Are you OK?" according to Nelson.

A Presidential Directive

Launched in 1999 by a presidential directive to secure U.S. resources, FS-ISAC works with the nation's largest financial institutions and the Department of Treasury to deliver timely, accurate physical and cyber security information. Through a 24/7 operations center, which is outsourced to Mountain View, Calif.-based digital-infrastructure operator Verisign, the nonprofit association analyzes and filters threats, sharing information from financial services providers; commercial security firms; federal, state and local government agencies; law enforcement and other resources with its members.

According to Nelson, 80 percent of FS-ISAC's current membership is banks and credit unions. The organization's membership rose from just 64 organizations in early 2004.

Dan DeWaal, first vice president and chief security officer for The Options Clearing Corp.(Chicago), the largest derivatives clearing company, was a founding member of FS-ISAC and now sits on its board. DeWaal also serves as the chair of FS-ISAC's products and services committee. "The Department of Treasury reached out to us to find a way to quickly reach out to our members in case of an emergency," he explains.

"In a crisis we would instruct everyone with the information that is available," Nelson adds. A conference call would be set up to update members on any relevant news, including regulatory relief from the federal government and how to get cash, he says.

According to Nelson, FS-ISAC tests the AlertFind system monthly. Although there have not yet been any crises that have warranted an emergency AlertFind message, FS-ISAC utilizes the system to warn its members of as many as three physical and 15 cyber threats each day, he says.

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