Monday, January 28, 2008

Ah, the Gov't At Work...

Because of my business development activities, I spend a lot of time talking with a variety of innovative cybersecurity companies. Security, whether intrusion detection, identity assurance, testing, spam blocking, thumbsucking prevention, is an incredibly complex problem with many proposed solutions. One aspect with biggest potential for damage is lack of security around critical infrastructure.

Dams, nuclear power plants, Wall Street and government installations are now all connected to the Internet in a way they weren't even a decade ago. The government admits that they haven't done nearly enough to secure these facilities from cyber attack.

The problem? Well, the Internet is a private asset, and idea of the government inserting itself into the management and security of that asset raises everyone's alarms about privacy and the proper role of government. Add to that the Bush administration's wonderful track record explaining themselves, and I think you end up with an all out battle if they should try to do anything.

To paraphrase a former president, "well, here they go again."

From today's Wall Street Journal, Bush Looks to Beef Up Protection Against Cyberattacks:
President Bush has promised a frugal budget proposal next month, but one big-ticket item is stirring controversy: an estimated $6 billion to build a secretive system protecting U.S. communication networks from attacks by terrorists, spies and hackers.

Administration officials and lawmakers say that the prospect of cyberterrorists hacking into a nuclear-power plant or paralyzing Wall Street is becoming possible, and that the U.S. isn't prepared. This is "one area where we have significant work to do," Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said in a recent interview.

The White House's proposal has already dismayed lawmakers concerned about civil-liberties violations. Democratic lawmakers are also frustrated by what they see as the White House's refusal to provide details of the program, and say that could threaten the fate of the initiative.
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