NSC's net monitoring plan draws swift fire

NSC's net monitoring plan draws swift fire

By Susan M. Menke

GCN Staff

A 140-page National Security Council draft plan for setting up a Federal Intrusion Detection Network that would monitor traffic on government and commercial networks drew barbs last week from privacy advocates.

The plan grew out of the 1998 Presidential Decision Directive 63 calling for government to lead the way in safeguarding critical national infrastructures.

James Dempsey, counsel for the Center for Democracy and Technology in Washington, said civilian agencies' employees and even citizens who visited federal Web sites would be considered to have given consent for FIDnet monitoring. That might involve tracking of e-mail, use of certain computer programs and remote access to government as well as commercial networks.

'The government people who oppose [FIDnet] have been afraid of speaking out too loudly' for fear of being called soft on cyberterrorism, Dempsey told GCN.

GSA's role

According to NSC spokesman Mike Hammer, the plan calls for the General Services Administration to host FIDnet's monitoring capability for all civilian networks.

Hammer said GSA would notify the FBI's National Infrastructure Protection Center of any intrusions and provide other monitored data. NIPC, in addition to its role of investigating computer virus incidents such as the Melissa epidemic this spring, has already piloted a secure clearinghouse in Cleveland to compile public- and private-sector reports about network intrusions under its InfraGard program [GCN, June 14, Page 3].

The InfraGard clearinghouse members report intrusions over an encrypted Web link and can learn at varying levels of confidentiality about the security breaches reported by others. The proposed FIDnet conceivably could build on the InfraGard model by cross-comparing leads to pinpoint and trace patterns of network misuse.

Hammer said FIDnet could be built 'as part of the $1.45 billion budget allocated to critical infrastructure protection.' He said the plan will be ready for presentation to President Clinton in September.

Dempsey said the chances are good for establishing FIDnet because the people who support it are very committed.

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