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[infowar.de] Washington: Grabenkaempfe ueber Cybersicherheitspolitik
Who's Protecting Cyberspace?
Feds consider new organizations, policy to guard against cyberterrorist
Stephen Chiger, Medill News Service Friday, June 28, 2002
Protecting the nation's cybersecurity is becoming a federal priority, as
experts warn that cyberterrorists could target not only networks, but
also many services and infrastructure operations controlled by
The Homeland Security Act is President Bush's solution, but as the plan
makes its way through Congress, government officials are raising
concerns and suggesting additional precautions.
Faced with a July 12 deadline to act on its portion of the President's
bill, the House Committee on Science is moving to beef up the
legislation to prepare the country for terrorist attacks on computer
networks. Bush suggests creating a new cabinet department in one of the
largest-ever reorganizations of government.
"Unfortunately, I have come to the conclusion that the bill the
Administration has sent us simply does not give research and development
a high enough profile to enable the Department of Homeland Security to
accomplish its goals," says Sherwood Boehlert (R-New York), committee
chair. "The bill does not even explicitly mention R&D in some critical
areas, such as cybersecurity and transportation security."
Boehlert's statements come amid rising industry concern about allegedly
poor government preparedness for potential attacks in digital space.
"Just two days ago, this Committee was told yet again... that
cybersecurity [research and developmbent] has become a backwater and
that as a result the nation lacks the tools it needs to foil a
cyberattack," Boehlert said at a June 27 committee hearing.
Experts are increasingly concerned that cyberterrorists could attack
much of the nation's critical physical infrastructure that is controlled
by computers, such as dams, electrical grids, or emergency response
"I think there is clearly a greater awareness that harms in cyberspace
don't necessarily remain in cyberspace," says John Tritak, director of
the Critical Infrastructure Assurance Office at the Commerce Department.
President Bush's bill, HR5005, would create a Department of Homeland
Security with four operational units: Information Analysis and
Infrastructure Protection; Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and
Nuclear Countermeasures; Border Transportation and Security; and
Emergency Preparedness and Response. Each would be headed by an
Some House Science Committee members argue that an undersecretary for
research and development should be added to organize the various
research units in this new department, a recommendation made by the
National Research Council.
"This [change] will substantively change the function of this
department... because there will be a single unit focusing on R&D," says
David Goldston, the committee's chief of staff.
The President proposes that the undersecretary for Chemical, Biological,
Radiological, and Nuclear Countermeasures oversee research and
development, says John Marburger, director of the Executive Office of
Science and Technology Policy.
However, Marburger notes, "The President's proposal is intended to be a
document that sets a general framework and is by no means complete in
The trade group Information Technology Association of America wants to
see cybersecurity emphasized in the proposed department in some way,
says Bob Cohen, ITAA senior vice president.
"We think that it's important [cybersecurity] does have a high-level
focus and that it not be buried in any kind of organization where it
wouldn't have that kind of visibility," he says.
The House Committee on Science is no stranger to cybersecurity
legislation. The Cybersecurity Research and Development Act, passed
overwhelmingly by the House of Representatives earlier this year, was
introduced by Boehlert following two committee hearings on
The committee will probably mark up the legislation the week following
the July 4 recess, says committee spokesperson Heidi Tringe.
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