White House security official calls for more systems vigilance

White House security official calls for more systems vigilance

By Christopher J. Dorobek

GCN Staff

APRIL 27—The recent arrest of a Canadian teenager in connection with the distributed denial-of-service attacks that hit several major Web sites earlier this year should not assuage anybody's vigilance about information security, a senior White House official said today.

"The threat is real, and it's not the 15-year-old that was apprehended in Canada," said Jeffrey Hunker, senior director for critical infrastructure at the White House's National Security Council. Service denial attacks are a nuisance, but the threat of more significant attacks is much greater, he said during a keynote address at the Information Processing Interagency Conference in Orlando, Fla.

The threats could come from other countries or terrorist organizations, some of which have more resources than the federal government, Hunker said.

The government must rethink its approach to information security since this is an instance in which government alone cannot provide adequate defense, Hunker said. In cyberspace, most of the critical infrastructures are not under the purview of the government but are run by the private sector, he noted.

Presidential Decision Directive 63, issued two years ago, put cyberterrorism on the map as an important issue, Hunker said. In January, President Clinton and the Critical Infrastructure Assurance Office released a national plan for protecting critical infrastructures.

But, Hunker warned, there is still much work to do. "Do not leave here thinking that there is a template and that everything is worked out," he said. The challenge of information security is that it is constantly changing and involves many organizations, he said.

Hunker said he does not believe the appointment of a federal IT security czar is necessary. "This is not an area where a single individual is running the program," he said. Rather, it requires a person who can coordinate many different sectors, he said.

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