Page last updated at 11:27 GMT, Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Obama begins cybersecurity review

Barack Obama, AP
President Obama emphasised cybersecurity while campaigning

A review of how well the US thwarts spies and malicious hackers has been started by President Barack Obama.

The wide-ranging review is set to last 60 days and takes in all the "plans, programs and activities" of official US cyber security efforts.

The end result will be a strategy to improve the way the US defends itself against net-borne threats.

While campaigning, President Obama likened net risks to the threat of nuclear or biological attack.

National security

"The national security and economic health of the United States depend on the security, stability, and integrity of our nation's cyberspace, both in the public and private sectors," said John Brennan, assistant to the president for counterterrorism and homeland security, in a statement.

Mr Brennan said he was sure that US critical infrastructure could be protected without trampling on privacy rights and civil liberties.

The Bush administration was widely criticised for ignoring safeguards on snooping by its intrusive monitoring of phone and net traffic in the name of stopping terrorism.

The Obama cybersecurity review is being co-ordinated by Melissa Hathaway, who co-ordinated cyber-monitoring for the director of national intelligence under George Bush.

The review comes in the wake of several incidents pointing to the growing problem of cybersecurity.

In September 2008, the US Government Accountability Office, which audits official strategies, warned that for years the Department of Homeland Security had "yet to fully satisfy its cybersecurity responsibilities."

In November 2008, a congressional panel warned that China had stepped up the computer-based espionage it carried out against the US.

The panel said China was stealing "vast amounts" of sensitive information from US computer networks.

In December 2008, a report produced by the Commission on Cybersecurity said: "Cybersecurity is now one of the major national security problems facing the United States."

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