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Overview

PCERT is a team of faculty and staff at Purdue University who work together to improve computer security, advise on policies regarding computer use and misuse, and who coordinate responses to computer security incidents on campus.

The PCERT is a member of FIRST, the Forum of Incident Response Teams. PCERT was the first university response team admitted to membership in the FIRST.

Personnel associated with CERIAS (directed by Professor Eugene Spafford, one of the PCERT founders) currently maintain an archive of security-related tools and documents. This archive is available to Purdue users and others through a WWW interface, and through an anonymous ftp server. The FIRST maintains a WWW server containing pointers to other servers for FIRST teams, reference documents, software, and other useful information.

Purdue-specific security problems or questions about PCERT structure or functions may be addressed to pcert@purdue.edu.

PCERT Charter
December, 1990 (edited February, 2002)
Computers and computer-based systems are an important part of our campus environment. Computers are used for research analysis, simulation, data collection, storage, graphics, instruction, electronic mail, process control, and administrative data processing.

Unfortunately, these same computers can also be the targets of malicious or criminal activity. This can include computer viruses, break-ins, theft of data, sabotage of experiments, student cheating, economic fraud, and political terrorism. The news has contained reports of an increasing number of computer security incidents over the last few years. Purdue -- with its large collection of computers and networks, large user population, and diverse computing activities -- has had a significant share of such incidents.

Many users on campus are unaware of the dangers to their computers and data. In part, that is because of a lack of awareness of the risks to which they are exposed. That same lack of awareness is often coupled with a lack of knowledge about good computer security practice, and how to recognize and respond to security problems when they occur.

In response to a growing campus, local, and national concern about computer security, personnel within the Computer Science Department (CS), the Engineering Computer Network (ECN), and the Information Technology at Purdue (ITaP) organization have formed a cooperative, non-binding advisory group, called the Purdue Computer Emergency Response Team (PCERT), to consult on computer security issues at Purdue.

The PCERT name is inspired, in part, by the national DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT), now maintained by the Software Engineering Institute at Carnegie Mellon University. The CERT was formed after the November, 1988 Internet worm incident to deal with national computer security issues involving computers on the Internet. We have established PCERT to follow CERT in function: to serve as the focus for organizing the Purdue response to computer security matters.
The PCERT charter is:

  • To support others at Purdue in enhancing the security of their computing systems.
  • To develop a standardized set of responses to security problems, including protocols for interdepartmental communication during computer security incidents.
  • To provide defined points of contact for communication about computer security issues with the national CERT and DOE CIAC (Department of Energy Computer Incident Advisory Capability), with law enforcement agencies, other external organizations, and internal Purdue offices.
  • To provide a central point of contact for information about security incidents at Purdue.
  • To assist in collecting and disseminating information on issues related to computer security, including information on configuration, management and bug fixes for computing systems.
  • To identify and coordinate campus resources that can be employed to deal with security incidents.

The PCERT is not seeking any authority or regulatory role on campus. Rather, our intent is to support departments and schools in the development and administration of their own security policies and activities.