Feds planning early-warning system for Internet

The U.S. National Communications System (NCS) plans to develop a Global Early Warning Information System (GEWIS) to monitor the performance of the Internet and provide warnings to government and industry users of threats that could degrade service, such as denial-of-service attacks against the Domain Name Servers that control Internet traffic.

Brenton Greene, deputy director of the NCS, speaking at a meeting here of the Federal Wireless User's Forum (FWUF), said the agency wants to use GEWIS (pronounced "gee-whiz") to monitor the "whole performance of the Internet," starting with the 13 high-level Domain Name Servers (DNS), and provide early warnings not only to government Internet users, but also to operators of e-commerce Web sites.

The NCS was established in 1962 in the wake of the Cuban missile crisis to improve communications coordination among federal agencies. In 1984, President Reagan expanded the mission of the NCS to include management of national security and emergency preparedness communications among federal agencies and state and local authorities.

The NCS is co-managed by the White House and the head of the Defense Information Systems Agency, who is currently Air Force Lt. Gen. Harry D. Raduege Jr.

The communications agency wants to use GEWIS to "monitor the health of the Internet globally, looking for degradations in performance" and then providing warnings if necessary, Greene said in an interview. In remarks to the FWUF conference, Greene specifically cited the performance of e-commerce sites as one of the parameters that GEWIS will monitor.

Given the growing reliance of the U.S. economy on the Internet, any degradation in service -- or outright attack -- is seen as a potential economic problem that could seriously affect e-commerce-related businesses.

Greene said the NCS plans to build GEWIS around existing Internet performance tools integrated into a cohesive suite that can provide a top-level view of system performance. The Internet has become an increasingly important communications tool for federal agencies, with even the Defense Department funneling much of its unclassified traffic over the same network used by individuals to send e-mail and surf Web sites.

Greene emphasized that GEWIS won't be designed to monitor specific traffic on the Internet, but rather to check on its overall performance and status. That includes status checks on overall topology and peering between servers.

He called GEWIS a "cyberwarning" tool, which could provide early indications of DNS flooding attacks and potentially catch viruses such as the Nimda worm or the Code Red virus, whose quick spread in 2001 plagued government and commercial Internet users. Greene said he believes GEWIS could have detected both Code Red and Nimda sooner if it had been in place.

John Pescatore, a security analyst at Gartner Inc. in Stamford, Conn., said that in his view "GEWIS is a good idea, and NCS should be able to pull it off."

"GEWIS will be useful for early warning of attacks against the Internet's underlying structure, like DNS and big core routers and the like, which is a good thing, and needed," Pescatore said.

He predicted that GEWIS would eventually allow for prioritization of traffic to protect parts of the Internet if there is an attack against the entire network.

"The Internet is very resilient, but when parts start to die there is no real rhyme or reason to how they go, and GEWIS could lead to a capability to try to keep important parts up while less important parts fail," Pescatore said. He doubts, however, that GEWIS could provide extra protection against virus proliferation, which is already well handled by companies such as Symantec Corp. and McAfee.com Corp.

Warren Suss, an analyst at Suss Consulting in Jenkintow, Pa., who closely follows federal programs, agreed with Pescatore that in an era of growing cyberattacks against both government and commercial Internet systems, GEWIS "is absolutely needed."

Said Suss, "It will provide broader and more robust protection against attacks that could bring the nation to its knees."

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Bob Brewin

Show Comments

Cool Tech

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?