White House asks industry for ideas

White House asks industry for ideas

There were times when the White House could not get a dial tone in the situation room on Sept. 11. 'You need to build the worst-case scenario into your plans.'
'PAUL KURTZ, WHITE HOUSE DIRECTOR OF CRITICAL INFRASTRUCTURE PROTECTION

The White House cannot secure cyberspace without help from industry.

'The good ideas come from you all,' Paul Kurtz, the president's director of critical infrastructure protection, told an industry gathering last month. 'If we don't have buy-in from the private sector, we can't get anywhere.'

Kurtz, who reports to Richard Clarke, chairman of the Critical Infrastructure Protection Board, said the fragility of the nation's communications systems was glaringly obvious on Sept. 11, when he monitored events from the White House situation room.

'Many times you'd pick up the phone and there wouldn't be a dial tone,' he said.

The Bush administration will emphasize R&D to strengthen voice and data systems while avoiding new regulations, Kurtz said at a Washington conference sponsored by MicroStrategy Inc. of McLean, Va.

The first step, he said, is to update the national cybersecurity strategy conceived during the Clinton administration. A Bush administration review began last summer and is expected to end late this summer.

'We want a document that is largely authored by the private sector,' Kurtz said.

Other priorities include:

  • GovNet, the proposed governmentwide secure private network. The General Services Administration is reviewing responses to a request for information issued late last year.

  • A cellular priority-access scheme to give emergency personnel access to wireless phone circuits during emergencies.

  • Expansion of the Cyber Corps scholarship program, which gives financial assistance for information security studies in exchange for a commitment to work for the government. 'We have a general deficit of people trained in information security,' Kurtz said.

  • A Cyber Warning and Information Network to gather, analyze and pass on information about threats to networking.

    'The worst case can happen,' Kurtz said. 'You need to build the worst-case scenario into your plans.'
  • About the Author

    William Jackson is freelance writer and the author of the CyberEye blog.

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