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Bill Tatun

Aug 17, 2015

Security of Criminal Justice Information Systems- AVAILABILITY: Why is this important?

When I was a Trooper with the New York State Police I was constantly reminded of how precious life was. Whether it was responding to the scene of a serious automobile accident, a homicide or playing a crucial support role in the response to the events of 9/11 in New York City, I was continually reminded how life could change, or cease, in an instant.


I must admit that since my retirement from law enforcement and being clouded by the craziness of day-to-day life, I sometimes forget this important truism.


That being said, today I am again reminded about how precious life is by remembering the time when my infant daughter had just been airlifted to the local children’s hospital. There I was, feeling helpless in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit with my daughter who was hooked up to life support (a ventilator) and fighting for every breath; just to live. Each time this memory comes to mind, I am instantly reminded of how “precious life really is.”


What does all this have to do with CJIS security?  Let me explain.


Information security is based on the CIA Triad with the “C” meaning confidentiality, the “I” meaning integrity, and the “A” meaning availability.


Today, focusing on the “A,” availability, we’ll briefly explore how this component of the CIA Triad is critical to the work you do every single day; especially in the terms of public and officer safety.


It is generally understood that the criminal justice information systems we use today are critical in our day-to-day work – critical to getting things done.


Even though we know the criticality, we sometimes forget how critical. Sometimes we forget that if a critical information system is unavailable, it might mean a precious life change for one of our officers or a member of the public we serve.


Let’s look at some illustrative scenarios (I love scenarios)…..


Think about…


… that All Points Bulletin or BOLO (be on the lookout) message that the Trooper was able to receive regarding the armed robbery that just occurred two exits away from where he is actively conducting traffic stops.  Would the Trooper come across the vehicle? Maybe. Good thing the information was AVAILABLE to the Trooper.


Think about…


… the officer that runs a wanted persons check and because the information was AVAILABLE was able to determine that they are dealing with a violent fugitive from justice and can take appropriate actions and precautions.


Think about…


… that AMBER alert that is successfully disseminated throughout AVAILABLE information systems in the area leading to the safe return of an abducted child to their respective parents.


Do all these scenarios sound possible? Well they are. In one aspect or another, I lived through them all.


In each of the above, we can instantly see and understand the importance of AVAILABLE criminal justice information systems. If these systems were NOT AVAILABLE there could have been dramatically different outcomes in each of the above scenarios.


How do we keep these systems AVAILABLE? One of the critical components to keeping information systems available is to keep them SECURE. We can start keeping them secure by complying with the FBI CJIS Security Policy.


Now that we can see how SECURITY and AVAILABILITY of our CJIS systems can relate directly to the “preciousness of life,” ask yourself, “Are your criminal justice information systems secure?”


Are you sure?


If you are unsure, don’t know or just want an outside expert to help ensure your critical criminal justice information systems are COMPLIANT, SECURE and AVAILABLE — CJIS ACE can help.


CJIS ACE can help determine your organization’s security profile and how it stacks up against the FBI CJIS Security Policy through its Compliance Profile Services.


Want to find out more about this or other CJIS ACE services? Just visit, reply to this email or give us a call at 850-778-3207.


Until next time, BE SAFE.

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