IBM Teams With FAA in Cybersecurity Push


As it looks to expand its cybersecurity efforts in the nation's capital, IBM has secured a partnership with the Federal Aviation Administration to develop technology to secure the agency's sprawling information systems.

Under the project, IBM (NYSE: IBM) plans to develop a prototype analytics system that will monitor and defend the FAA's civilian aviation networks and infrastructure against hacking attacks, botnets, and other cyber threats.

IBM said the new approach will offer streaming analytics that both provide real-time security information and correlate historical intrusion records to deliver a composite picture of the wellness of the FAA's systems, presented in the form of dynamic "executive-level dashboards."

Cyber attacks loom

"Cyber attacks have become a global pandemic and no system is immune," Todd Ramsey, general manager of IBM's U.S. Federal division, said in a statement. Ramsey added that the partnership furthers IBM's work with the government, a collaboration through which the company is working to develop comprehensive solutions for protecting the digital and physical infrastructures of critical national networks and enterprise systems."

Earlier this month, the company established the IBM Institute for Advanced Security in Washington. That shop, headed by Charles Palmer, stakes out its mission of fostering collaboration with the public sector to protect vital infrastructure, such as the electrical grid and transportation systems.

IBM recently forged a partnership with the Air Force to develop a secure cloud environment for military aviation networks and systems.

IBM's efforts, along with those of numerous other firms in the tech sector, in part answer the call for stronger public-private partnerships that has become the rallying cry of the administration and several lawmakers, as concerns mount about cyber threats and attacks against critical U.S. infrastructure.

Those threats were illustrated in dramatic fashion at the FAA last February, when the agency went public with details about a security breach that saw hackers swipe 48 files from its servers containing sensitive information about 49,000 employees, including social security numbers and medical records.

Government officials acknowledge that their systems are more or less under constant attack, and President Obama has installed a cybersecurity coordinator in the White House in part to oversee the federal response to the threat, but also to spearhead efforts to partner with businesses in the private sector and launch a nationwide education campaign to promote safe computing.

Some in Congress don't think that goes far enough. A sweeping Senate bill approved by committee last week would elevate that position to the Cabinet level, and codify a blueprint for the public-private partnerships that most everyone agrees are a crucial ingredient to federal cybersecurity policy.

Kenneth Corbin is an associate editor at, the news service of, the network for technology professionals.