Washington


Did The September 11th Attacks Blind Us To A Digital Pearl Harbor?

It was December 8, 2000 – the waning days of the Clinton Administration. Richard Clarke, a member of President Clinton’s National Security Council, was addressing attendees at SafeNet 2000, a conference sponsored by Microsoft Corp. that brought together computer security experts from around the country to talk about ways to increase cooperation around cyber security. 


A new report suggests that lawmakers, policy wonks and
corporations are sensationalizing the risk of cyber attacks far beyond the
actual threat. The inflation of cyber security threat, like the inflation of the threat of Communism during the Cold War, or terrorist acts in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, could lead to laws
that curtail individual freedoms and regulate the Internet in
unnecessary ways, the report concludes.

The official line in Washington D.C. is that there’s a new Cold War brewing, with an ascendant China in the place of the old Soviet Union, and cyberspace as the new theater of war. But work done by an independent security researcher suggests that the Chinese government is woefully unprepared to fend off cyber attacks on its own infrastructure.

Microsoft on Tuesday provided key details of  a “Coordinated Vulnerability Disclosure”
(CVD) program it announced in July and that’s aimed at bolstering
collaboration between Microsoft, its customers and the security
community. 

The take-down of the Rustock botnet in March gave Microsoft another head for its mantle: two in just the last year. That’s an impressive take for any private firm, and one of a string of actions against bot networks in recent years.  But security experts say that the company’s success in building a legal basis for moving against botnets is an even bigger achievement.

President Obama on Tuesday appointed Howard Schmidt, the former CSO of Microsoft and Bush administration security adviser, to be the White House Cybersecurity Coordinator. In this podcast, recorded in May soon after Obama’s announcement that he would appoint a security czar, Dennis Fisher talks with Schmidt about the job, the cybercrime problem and what needs to be done to fix it.

In May, President Obama completed his long-awaited “cyberspace policy review,” concluding that cyberspace is a strategic asset that must be safeguarded from attack as a national security priority. 
The president promised to appoint a permanent “cyber czar” who would coordinate the work of federal agencies charged with protecting us. But since “acting cyber-security czar” Melissa Hathaway resigned in August, the post has been unfilled.  Why?   Read the full op-ed [LA Times/James D. Zirin]

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