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Thursday, 19 September, 2002, 08:48 GMT 09:48 UK
Two cheers for US cyber-security plan
Richard Clarke
Mr Clarke says local initiatives are the best way forward

A much-vaunted US Government strategy on safeguarding the nation's cyber infrastructure has been unveiled in Silicon Valley, but critics have already said the recommendations are not tough enough.


If the government can tell us we must wear a seatbelt... shouldn't they tell us that maybe we should protect the infrastructure as well?

Larry Magid, technology writer
A week after the first anniversary of the September 11 attacks, Richard Clarke, the US's top cyber-cop, told an audience of hi-tech businesspeople that "America now depends on critical information infrastructures to support the way it does business and to support the way it does government and to support its national security.

"Many of those networks remain insecure," Mr Clarke said.

Cyber-attacks last year alone cost companies $13bn-17bn through lost production as firms were forced to shut down whole networks to fix the problem.

Local initiatives

Instead of pushing a federal initiative, the new "National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace" relies heavily on voluntary cooperation and educating users.

"The government cannot dictate. The government cannot alone secure cyberspace," Mr Clarke told the gathering at Stanford University.

Many business and non-government organisations said they were ready to play their part in securing the networks they own and run.

"Shareholders, customers, partners and employees will hold companies accountable for such security breaches," said Thomas Noonan of Internet Security Systems.

Critics call for more

But critics argued that voluntary cooperation and market pressures would hardly have the effect of federal law.

Many were also disappointed that there was no push to require internet service providers to include firewalls or antivirus utilities for high speed users.

"If the government can tell us we must wear a seatbelt and motorcycle helmets, shouldn't they tell us that maybe we should protect the infrastructure as well?" said Larry Magid, who writes about technology for the LA Times.

Government, meanwhile, denied it was taking the easy option.

"The President has asked Congress for a sixty four per cent increase to the tune of $4.5bn in funds to be spent to secure federal networks and systems," said Howard Schmidt, vice-chairman of the President's Critical Infrastructure Protection Board.

President George W Bush is expected to launch the final plan later in the year.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC's Maggie Shiels
"Businesses have paid heavily for last year's cyber attacks"
See also:

18 Sep 02 | Technology
01 Mar 02 | Business
20 Jun 01 | Business
03 Jan 01 | South Asia
16 May 00 | Business
15 Dec 99 | Business
11 Oct 01 | Science/Nature
15 Aug 01 | Science/Nature
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