ARCHIVED 11/19/09

November 19, 2009

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Kenneth Corbin,, 11/19/2009

Senior government officials overseeing the nation’s cyber defenses told a Senate panel this morning that agencies are doing more to coordinate their far-ranging efforts, but that even in the best-case scenario, the hackers are often one step ahead.

”The harder we can make the general network environment, the easier it’s going to be to detect [threats],” said Richard Schaeffer, director of the National Security Agency’s Information Assurance Directorate. “We believe that if one institutes best practices, proper configuration, good network monitoring … a system ought to be able to withstand about 80 percent of the commonly known attacks.”…..

The Obama administration has pushed cybersecurity to the top of its policy agenda, highlighted by a speech the president gave at the White House on the subject in May. That address accompanied the release of a report with a spate of short- and long-term recommendations to overhaul federal cybersecurity policy…..

Earlier this year, Sen. John Rockefeller, the West Virginia Democrat who chairs the Commerce Committee, introduced a bill that would enact a sweeping overhaul of federal cybersecurity operations, including controversial provisions that would dramatically expand executive authority over private networks. Rockefeller and co-sponsor Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) have since withdrawn the bill and said they plan to reintroduce a revised version later this session………

Others criticize the spy agency for its culture of secrecy, which they say undermines efforts to partner with industry. They generally point to the Department of Homeland Security, which is the leading department that coordinates with the private sector, as the best candidate to run point on cybersecurity.

”We can’t do this through Cold War-era structures,” said Larry Clinton, president of the Internet Security Alliance. “And that’s what we have now.”