• United States



Contributing Writer

Hold The Phone

Oct 01, 20042 mins
CSO and CISOData and Information Security

The telecommunications industry has had its own sort of Information Sharing and Analysis Center ever since 1984, when the government set up a federal emergency telecom office. Several iterations later, the telecom industry’s disaster planning and response is handled through the National Coordination Committee (NCC) under DHS.

“It’s my parochial view that telecommunications is the most critical infrastructure. The first thing someone does in a disaster is reach for the phone,” says Joan Grewe, MCI’s national Telecom Service Priority liaison to the NCC who, after 9/11, spent a week at her desk (sleeping only for short periods on the floor in her office) to help restore the telecom infrastructure.

One of the NCC’s initiatives: Government Emergency Telecommunication Service (GETS) cards, which guarantee phone access to emergency responders.

“Many CSOs didn’t know about GETS calling cards before the financial services tabletop in April,” says Suzanne Gorman, who chairs the financial services ISAC.

One such CSO is Eric Guerrino, senior vice president of information security at The Bank of New York, who would have given anything for a GETS card on 9/11.

“I was on a ferry from Staten Island when my department was evacuating to our redundant site uptown. I was only able to use my cell phone until 9:30 that morning,” says Guerrino. “After that, my team was on its own for the evacuation.”