Senator seeks security $$

Senator seeks security $$

'Security stinks,' the White House's Jeffrey Hunker says.

Schumer pushes for $256 million increase for fiscal 2001

By William Jackson

GCN Staff

The United States is doing 'less than it should' to protect its critical infrastructure from weapons of mass disruption, Sen. Charles Schumer said recently and called for a $256 million increase in fiscal 2001 funding for systems security.

So far, the House has denied the request. Current funding is $1.75 billion.

'Cybersecurity is not really on anybody's radar screen,' Schumer (D-N.Y.) said at a recent symposium on information security sponsored by the Brookings Institution in Washington. The country is still mired in a Cold War mentality of spending money on weapons while ignoring the threat of hackers working for unfriendly nations or terrorists, said a panel of systems experts.

The panel included John C. Nagengast, the National Security Agency's assistant deputy director for information systems security; David Whelan, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's director of tactical technology, Michael E. O'Hanlon, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution; and presidential security adviser Jeffrey A. Hunker.

All of them joined Schumer in calling for the funding boost. '

As the National Security Council's senior director for critical infrastructure, Hunker is the point man for implementing Presidential Decision Directive 63, the 1998 mandate for government to secure its critical systems. Version 1.0 of the National Plan for Information Systems Protection came out in January.

'Security stinks right now,' Hunker said. 'It is virtually nonexistent on most systems. We don't have people who are trained in cybersecurity. We don't even have the professors who can train them.'

Recruiting, training and retaining federal experts is one of the plan's priorities; President Clinton requested $25 million in the fiscal 2001 budget for this part of the initiative.

Other funding includes $621 million to increase federal R&D, $50 million for an Institute for Information Infrastructure Protection, $10 million for the Federal Intrusion Detection Network, $7 million for public-key infrastructure pilots, and $5 million for vulnerability reviews at all agencies.

Security funding is easier to get after an incident such as the Oklahoma City bombing and much more difficult at other times, NSA's Nagengast said.

The pattern of reacting to incidents and then returning to business as usual must change, he said.

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