WARP factor

A couple of weeks ago, I co-chaired a workshop on the role of WARPs (Warnings, Advice and Reporting Points) in health and education. Since my job in the UK’s National Health Service has just disappeared, to be replaced in due course by one or more NHS WARPs, there’s a certain irony there. However, I do find the WARP culture rather interesting.

WARPs are an extension of the CERT/CSIRT concept. They’re intended to have some of the functionality of a full-blown CERT, though not generally the full technical response function. The theory is that a WARP will provide:

• An alert service in which the alerts are filtered to suit the specific needs and interests of the community the WARP serves.
• A limited helpdesk service.
• Somewhere to report incidents.

As you might expect with an initiative that arose from the UK Government CERT, there is a fairly stringent formal registration process for approved WARPs. However, other teams performing similar functions might benefit from exposure to a community of trust beyond the borders of their own organization. Certainly we could all benefit from shared experience and incident reporting, and the raising of security awareness and involvement at end-user level. And, since they can be run on a part-time or volunteer basis, WARPs can provide enhanced community security very economically.