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Rosenworcel Wants the FCC to Tighten EAS Cybersecurity

Ideas being floated include requiring stations to have cyber risk management plans in place

Radio and TV stations could soon have additional EAS requirements to meet in the interest of cybersecurity.

FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel is circulating a set of proposals among the commissioners that would “bolster the security of the nation’s public alert and warning systems,” including the Emergency Alert System and Wireless Emergency Alerts.

One idea she is floating is to require stations and other EAS participants to report compromises of their EAS equipment.

Another would require EAS participants and wireless providers that participate in Wireless Emergency Alerts to certify every year that they have a cybersecurity risk management plan in place, “and to employ sufficient security measures to ensure the confidentiality, integrity and availability of their respective alerting systems.”

She also wants to consider ways to improve the operational readiness of EAS, including looking at “the amount of time that broadcasters, cable providers and other EAS participants may operate before repairing defective EAS equipment.”

And she would require wireless providers to take steps to ensure that only valid alerts are displayed on consumer devices.

At this time, these are only points in a draft notice of proposed rulemaking, details of which are pending. If the commissioners vote “yes,” it means the FCC will take comments on the proposals before taking any further action.

Rosenworcel said in her announcement, “It is critical that these public safety systems are secure against cyber threats, which means that we must be proactive.  The draft proposals shared today will help ensure that our national alerting systems work as intended during emergencies and the public can trust the warnings they receive.”