TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Experts Push for More Computer Security Efforts

Experts Push for More Computer Security Efforts

Lisa Minter (
Tue, 7 Dec 2004 14:42:44 EST

The Bush administration should spend more on computer-security
research, share threat information with private-sector security
vendors, and set up an emergency computer network that would remain
functional during Internet blackouts, a computer-security trade group

The Homeland Security Department should also give more authority to
the official who oversees cybersecurity, members of the Cyber Security
Industry Alliance said.

The Homeland Security Department, which was not immediately available
for comment, opposes such a move.

"There's certainty across the cybersecurity community that we are
still vulnerable and we need to do more," said Amit Yoran, who served
as Homeland Security's point man on cybersecurity until he abruptly
resigned in October amid reports that he was frustrated with his lack
of authority.

After the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, experts warned that power plants
and other vital parts of the nation's infrastructure could be
compromised through online hacking.

Business and home computer users, meanwhile, have struggled with a
flood of viruses, spam and other plagues that have evolved in the past
year into coordinated criminal attempts to steal bank account numbers
and other sensitive information.

The Bush administration developed a plan to improve security that
relies heavily on industry cooperation and charged the Homeland
Security Department with implementing it.

Over the past 18 months, Yoran and other Homeland Security officials
have worked to increase coordination between law-enforcement officials
and security vendors like Symantec Corp. and RSA Security Inc.

The government has also struggled to upgrade the security of its own
systems, which consistently get failing grades from congressional

Security experts said the government's efforts haven't been nenough.

"I think we've raised the profile, but I don't think we got the
support within the administration that we should have," said Art
Coviello, the chief executive at RSA Security.

The government should try to estimate the damages caused by online
attacks, secure online control systems for water-treatment plants and
other critical infrastructure, and urge the Senate to ratify an
international cybercrime treaty, Coviello and other security experts
said at a press conference.

One especially important move, they said, would be to elevate Yoran's
successor to the assistant-secretary level within the Homeland
Security Department.

House of Representatives lawmakers had included that provision within
the massive intelligence reorganization bill, but Homeland Security
officials convinced the Senate to leave it out.

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