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Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT)

Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Running time: 
36 minutes
Cross-functional teams
Group decision making
Information technology -- Security measures
Computer security
Risk management
Teaching Notes: 

CERTs (Computer Emergency Response Teams) are knowledge groups responsible for responding to and preventing attacks on the internet. The first CERT was launched in 1988 at the Software Engineering Institute at Carnegie Mellon University. CERT members identify incidents, assess their significance, and issues advisories to users. Advisories must be carefully worded to help users rebuild their systems and preventing future attacks without giving away information that might lead to future attacks. The compositions of CERTs vary depending on the nature of the attack.

In this video, shot at the Software Engineering Institute at CMU, a team of six people ranging from a public relations person to a software engineer prepares to send out an advisory to the world on a specific malware, the "Password Sniffer". The first part, “Making a Team Decision”, shows the team debating on the real-life advisory. In the second part, members are asked to select an adjective best describing their team. In part 3, they reflect on the factors making their group effective. Diversity of the members’ backgrounds is a crucial aspect, allowing them to find flaws in the draft advisories from different perspectives. The last part deals with assessing group effectiveness.

In teaching the video can be used to illustrate topics such as group effectiveness, group decision-making, managing a meeting, or handling conflict.

See also videos illustrating other types of work groups: Crew: Rowing in an Eight, Chamber Music Quartet, and Chinese String Quartet.