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[] Former officials assess security needs on cyber front,

June 11, 2003 

Former officials assess security needs on cyber front 

By William New, National Journal's Technology Daily 

A panel of former government experts in cybersecurity on Wednesday
assessed the need to address that issue. 

At a Center for Strategic and International Studies conference, Ronald
Dick, director of strategic initiatives on information assurance at
Computer Sciences Corp., identified several drivers to improving cyber
security and protecting critical infrastructures. Dick once headed the
FBI's National Infrastructure Protection Center, whose functions were
absorbed into the Homeland Security Department this year. 

Dick said the level of awareness of cybersecurity issues is high, with
reports of failures to protect information circulating every day. He
said regulations, standards and even legislation on the matter are

He also cited "rumblings" in the legal community about challenging the
law that protects companies from liability even if something happens
involving their homeland security technology. And there is an increasing
attention to including safety procedures in cyber products, much like
safety belts eventually became required in automobiles. 

Philip Reitinger, senior security strategist at Microsoft, said the
recent "brain drain" of top government cyber experts means getting "the
right folks" in place is a top priority. Reitinger also pointed to the
need for incentives for agencies to better protect cybersecurity, and
the need for appropriate technologies. 

He suggested that government support the private sector's efforts to
protect critical infrastructures by identifying the gaps between what
the marketplace will take care of and what is needed. Then it should
determine the best way to close that gap with "tailored" government
action that poses the least possible intrusion into the marketplace. 

John Tritak, former director of the Critical Infrastructure Assurance
Office, which also was absorbed into Homeland Security, applauded the
creation of a cybersecurity division at the department because he said
some high-level officials did not see the need for it. "It was not a
foregone conclusion," he said. 

"If anyone's going to be kept up all night worrying about cybersecurity,
then it better be the Department of Homeland Security," he added. 

Tritak said the department needs to "translate cyber risk into corporate
risk" by helping top executives see the importance of it, "or the gap
between where the market will go and what is needed is going to be

He said the national plan the department is mandated to develop would be
the "ultimate" guiding government document on cybersecurity. 

Panelists also said the private sector would be more encouraged to share
security information with the government if it received more-and more
compelling-information on threats. 

Stewart Baker, a partner at Steptoe and Johnson, said he was alarmed by
statutory language that lets the federal government share private-sector
information about cybersecurity with foreign governments as long as the
information is considered part of an investigation. "There is a lot of
reason to be worried about that," Baker said.

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