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[infowar.de] US-Praesidentenberater Schmidt warnt vor bevorstehenden Cyber-"Katastrophen"
President's advisor predicts cyber-catastrophes unless securityimproves
By Ellen Messmer
Network World Fusion
NEW YORK - In his keynote address at an information technology
auditing conference here, Howard Schmidt, President Bush's advisor on
cyber-security, predicted that networks operated in the U.S. and
abroad are likely to be brought down by catastrophic events unless
security greatly improves.
"By 2009, there will be over 2 billion Internet-enabled devices, each
with an IP address, in the U.S. alone, and 6 billion altogether,"
predicted Schmidt, vice chair of the President's Critical
Infrastructure Protection Board, in his keynote before the 30th annual
international conference of the Information Systems Audit and Control
Association (ISACA). The conference was attended by nearly 300
security professionals from 37 countries.
The devices on the IP packet-based network of the future, predicted
Schmidt, will include not just computers, but also traffic lights,
elevators, appliances and even pacemakers. But the IP networks of 2009
will be unstable, subject to "constant security outages," unless both
governments and private industry focus on eliminating network
vulnerabilities through research and better practices. Advertisement:
"The routing tables of the future will be unmanageable; there will
slowdown and failures, and malicious and criminal activity between
2002 and 2009 all mean the Internet quits working," warned Schmidt. He
even forecast a future in which "special aircraft will be flying the
routing tables" physically to servers after periodic network
In addition, computer viruses, the "zero-day viruses and affinity
worms," will be surreptitiously entering IP devices, causing
widespread devastation by wiping out business records.
"In a major brokerage house, it will enter through the CEO's house by
infecting the CEO's PC, then the corporate network, and scrambling the
brokerage house trading records," said Schmidt, who was formerly chief
of security at Microsoft before joining the President's Critical
infrastructure Protection Board in December.
Electrical power grids, controlled by networks, could collapse in 2005
due to distributed denial-of-service attacks that block traffic to
IP-based management devices, Schmidt said. Economically, all these
disruptions will take a toll by 2009, with the Federal Reserve coming
to the conclusion that cyberattacks are depleting growth. Then,
Fedwire, the government-run network for monetary transfers to banks,
will be hit by a database scrambler attack and there will be an
unscheduled bank holiday to clean up the mess.
"That's where we're headed if we don't turn this ship around," Schmidt
The federal government is monitoring a situation that arose during the
past year in which it was discovered that vulnerabilities in the
Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) would allow attackers to
take over SNMP-based routers, switches, applications and firewalls.
This vulnerability, detailed by Finnish researchers, has been traced
back to what's called ASN.1 encoding, which caused dozens of network
and applications vendors to issue software patches in a race to fix
networks before hackers exploited the vulnerability.
ASN.1 constitutes a layer of network coding that is used in many
network protocols other than SNMP, and there are suspicions that
implementations of ASN.1, which Schmidt likened to "a bad gene in the
DNA of complex programs," may be at risk as well.
So far, Schmidt disclosed, the ASN.1 buffer-overflow vulnerability has
also been discovered to affect telecommunications microwave equipment,
which the industry has quietly addressed. "We're monitoring that,"
Working with industry, the government has wanted to keep information
about major vulnerabilities quiet until industry had the needed
For that purpose, the Bush administration is supporting legislation
that would somewhat restrict the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA),
which allows individuals to petition for release of government-held
documents, by not requiring federal agencies to release information
about security vulnerabilities disclosed by industry to government.
The goal is to establish what's know being called the "Cyber Warning
and Information Network" between government and industry to share
information about serious security threats quickly. "We want a limited
FOIA exception for this," Schmidt said.
The 20-member President's Critical Infrastructure Protection Board,
created by President Bush last October, is the organization expected
to coordinate security strategies with both agencies and
private-sector companies. Its concerns cover the safety, both physical
and electronic, of industry sectors that include telecommunications,
energy, transportation, banking, healthcare, manufacturing, and water
The CIIP board expects to publish its cyberstrategy report on Sept.
19, initially to ask for public input on its recommendations. These
recommendations are expected to include a statement of "best
practices" for federal agencies, asking them to adhere to guidelines
for security auditing, vulnerability assessment, intrusion detection
and other tasks, Schmidt said.
In addition, the report will recommend proposed research areas where
more work needs to be done to improve the Internet's somewhat shaky
foundation, particularly as pertains to older protocols such as Domain
Name Server and Border Gateway Protocol.
"DNS and BGP are not designed for use in an open environment with the
kind of threats we have today," said Schmidt. "We need Secure DNS and
Secure BGP. And we have to start securing the future systems,
beginning with wireless."
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