Posts Tagged ‘Keller’

Nevada Homeland Security Commission Concerned About Cyberterrorism Threat

By Sean Whaley | 11:52 am August 5th, 2010

CARSON CITY – Members of the Nevada Homeland Security Commission expressed concern today that the state does not appear to have a coordinated effort or designated person to deal with the ever-growing threat of cybercrime.

“I’m amazed we already don’t have a handle on this” said commission vice-chairman and former Clark County sheriff Jerry Keller, “I’m absolutely amazed that nine years after 9-11, that we sit in the state of Nevada in a commission that has no authority to effect action except direct grant funds, and we can’t say who’s it; who is the person in Nevada for cybercrimes . . .”

Keller said the state either needs to designate someone who can coordinate efforts to combat cybercrime, or the commission needs to form a cybercrime subcommittee of its own so Nevada can better prepare for and prevent such attacks.

The commission decided to form a subcommittee of its own to bring the panel up-to-speed on cybercrime prevention efforts under way in the state.

The discussion came during a report on the activities of the commission’s Critical Infrastructure Committee by Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Assistant Sheriff Mike McClary, who recommended the creation of a separate cybercrime committee because of the complexity of the issue.

The information is critical for the commission to decide which grant proposals should be awarded the limited funds available to the state, said Chairman Dale Carrison.

Cybercrime, or more specifically cyberterrorism, is the convergence of terrorism and cyberspace, according to testimony provided to Congress in 2000 by a Georgetown University professor.

“It is generally understood to mean unlawful attacks and threats of attack against computers, networks, and the information stored therein when done to intimidate or coerce a government or its people in furtherance of political or social objectives,” said Professor Dorothy Denning.

In remarks earlier this year, FBI Director Robert Mueller said the agency believes, “the cyberterrorism threat is real, and it is rapidly expanding.”

“To date, terrorists have not used the Internet to launch a full-scale cyber attack. But they have executed numerous denial-of-service attacks,” he said. “And they have defaced numerous websites, including Congress’ website following President Obama’s State of the Union speech.”

The 14-member Homeland Security Commission meets quarterly. Keller, who is retired as vice president of security for Wynn Resorts, has been critical in past meetings of the state’s efforts in preparing for an act of terrorism, including failures to improve communications between different first-responders who would react to an incident.

“But we’re absolutely sitting still in the water in this state with making progress on several of these homeland security issues,” Keller said. “And it is very frustrating that we don’t have a person responsible for this; that this hasn’t already been done.

“All we can do is listen, and wait three months and listen again, and wait three more months and listen again, and hope that this gels into a solid product and it just doesn’t,” he said.

Carrison joined in Keller’s concerns, saying different groups are working separately on the issue, but that Homeland Security does not know what all the efforts entail or if they are coordinated.

The commission would like to know, “where we were, where we are and where we are going,” Carrison said.

“Because there is no coordinated effort in this state that I can see that has identified that,” he said.

Glade Myler, a senior deputy attorney general, said there is a cybercrime advisory council within the attorney general’s office that could make a report to the commission. He also noted that Gov. Jim Gibbons in June created the Nevada Crime Commission, which has cybercrime as one of its issues.

Kevin Favreau, FBI special agent in charge of the Las Vegas division, who serves as a non-voting member of the Homeland Security Commission, said cybercrime attacks on critical infrastructure are a focus of the agency’s InfraGard program. It is active both in Las Vegas and separately in northern Nevada and works closely with the private sector, he said.

“I would certainly pledge the FBI’s support to a second subcommittee looking at this issue,” he said.

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Audio clips:

Former Clark County Sheriff Jerry Keller on lack of cybercrime coordination:

080410Keller1 :19 Nevada for cybercrimes.”

Keller on need to make progress on homeland security issues:

080410Keller2 :19 already been done.”

Homeland Security Commission Chairman Dale Carrison on lack of coordination on cybercrime coordination:

080410Carrison1 :19 what they’re doing.”

Homeland Security Commissioners, Sheriffs Frustrated With Lack of Progress

By Sean Whaley | 1:41 pm April 7th, 2010

CARSON CITY – Members of Nevada’s Homeland Security Commission expressed frustration today that more than eight years after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, local law enforcement and other emergency responders still can’t communicate with each other when responding to an emergency.

Commission member and former Clark County Sheriff Jerry Keller said the lack of interoperable communications was a major problem in responding to those terrorist attacks, and Nevada still faces the issue after spending millions of dollars in federal funds in an effort to prepare for and prevent terrorist attacks.

“We’ve spent $200 million dollars of federal money in the state of Nevada, and we’re still in the same boat,” he said.

Keller said he would like a report at the next commission meeting on the status of the communications issue that would include a timeline on when the problem will be solved.

Robert Wideman, the newly hired interoperable communications coordinator for Nevada, said he shares the concerns expressed by Keller.

“I think your analysis of what has happened is spot on,” he said. “I guess my approach in the time I have been here is not to point fingers at anyone on what they did or didn’t do right, but rather to find a strategy to lead us out of this.”

Keller said: “I don’t want to point fingers, I just want a date.”

Commissioner and Washoe County Sheriff Michael Haley said he would like to see a document showing where interoperability remains an issue.

“Because we do have interoperability and operability within certain regions of this state, and there are projects to connect those areas that don’t have it,” he said. “I think we need to clear the air by having folks in this room that are qualified to explain where those things occur presently and where we need to focus our attention at.”

Commissioner and Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie agreed, saying progress has been made on interoperability since the terrorist attacks of 2001. But there are factors state emergency responders don’t have control over, he said.

“It’s not just the voice information that needs to be shared, it’s the data information that needs to be shared,” Gillespie said.

“I share my former boss’s frustration in dealing with this particular issue because we never actually seem to get there,” he said. “We keep moving but then the target gets moved on us.”

Commissioners Criticize State Homeland Security Reorganization

By Sean Whaley | 12:57 pm November 4th, 2009

CARSON CITY – Members of the Nevada Commission on Homeland Security today criticized the decision by Gov. Jim Gibbons to merge the homeland security program with the Department of Public Safety, saying the critical mission of the program has been diminished with the move.

The commission was also informed that Rick Eaton, director of Homeland Security, has resigned effective the end of the month. Jerry Hafen, director of the Department of Public Safety, said Eaton submitted his resignation to the governor explaining he wanted to spend more time with his family.

But it was the move of the Office of Homeland Security from under Gibbons to Public Safety that provoked the most comment from the commission.

Commission Vice Chairman Jerry Keller, a former Clark County Sheriff, said the Office of Homeland Security now has no direct link to Gibbons, a communication avenue critical to the mission of the program. Keller acknowledged that Gibbons does not have the authority without legislative approval to create a position of director of homeland security.

“But I’m telling you right now in my opinion, having been involved in homeland security since the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, I am disappointed in this move of the state,” Keller said. “They have never taken this to heart.

“We go along at a snail’s pace with every issue on homeland security,” he said. “I am disappointed in this decision. I think it is an absolute mistake. It is a sad day for the homeland security side of the state of Nevada and the citizens it serves.”

Keller’s concerns about moving the program were echoed by Doug Gillespie, the current Clark County sheriff, and others on the panel.

Commission Chairman Dale Carrison acknowledged Keller’s concerns, but said he will support Gibbons’ decision.

“It’s time for all the people in the boat to be rowing in the same direction,” he said.

Carrison said the decision to move homeland security has uncovered issues with the program that could cost the state money in future grant awards.

He said there are “significant chances that we will lose a large amount of money because of what has happened in some of the programs, or better yet what has not happened in some of the programs, that has come to light during this transition period and time.”

The commission will be advised of these concerns in future meetings, Carrison said.

An effort is under way to get the programs back on track, he said. Once this task is accomplished, the commission can go forward with the issues raised by Keller and others, he said.

Keller said that if there was a failure to perform by a member of the program, shifting it from one area of state government to another won’t solve the problem.

Hafen said a review of the programs operated by the Office of Homeland Security is under way to ensure funds are being spent appropriately and within the timelines required by the federal government. Hafen said he does not believe the issues being uncovered in the review and mentioned by Carrison as concerns are, “insurmountable.”

Gibbons in October announced he was moving the program from his office to the Department of Public Safety, following the lead of two dozen other states. The reason for the move is to improve efficiency and response, Gibbons said in making the announcement. Within Public Safety, the program is being overseen by the Division of Emergency Management and its chief, Frank Siracusa. Siracusa reports to Hafen.

Hafen said the move is the best decision for homeland security in the short term until issues raised by Keller and others can be addressed by the Legislature.

“I understand the frustration of everybody, I’ve been as frustrated as anybody else about the performance of that office,” Hafen said. “Not just under Rick Eaton’s leadership. The Office of Homeland Security never really had a place in the state structure because it was never legislatively created.”

Gibbons spokesman Dan Burns said there are plans for a workshop to discuss the future of the Office of Homeland Security and the concerns expressed by Keller and others.

Keller praised the work of Siracusa, but said he is overloaded with his current duties.

Keller said he has been asking for a director of homeland security for almost eight years following the 2001 terrorist attacks, but it has not happened.

“There are some significant deficiencies in the overall state plan,” he said. “We don’t have anybody in charge in the state of Nevada in homeland security.”

Keller said both Clark and Washoe counties have created such a position and the state is better off because of this local government commitment to homeland security.

“This commission specifically has no authority to take action,” he said. “We advise.”