Clarke: IT industry is in denial

Clarke: IT industry is in denial

Presidential cybersecurity czar Richard Clarke warned a gathering of information security professionals today that the IT industry is in a state of denial about hardware and software vulnerabilities.

Clarke compared the computer industry with the airline industry prior to Sept. 11 in ignoring the dangers of security lapses.

'If the IT industry continues to think like that, it will suffer the same fate as the aviation industry' that has been forced to drastically heighten security at great expense and great customer inconvenience, he said.

Clarke'who delivered the keynote address at the RSA Conference 2002 in San Jose, Calif., hosted by RSA Security Inc. of Bedford, Mass.'told about 2,000 industry officials they had better wake up to head off a serious attack on the nation's critical infrastructure.

'We can't continue to look to the past as a predictor of the future,' he said. 'Don't wait for the government to identify the vulnerabilities. You know them better than the government does.'

Clarke also said the General Services Administration's request for information for a proposed private government network, dubbed GovNet, has spurred debate about the appropriate role of government networks. The RFI drew responses from 167 companies and is now being reviewed by a task force from 16 agencies. The president's fiscal 2003 budget proposal earmarked $5 million for a feasibility study of the project.

'We haven't made a decision to go ahead with GovNet,' he said.

Many responses to the RFI pointed out that equivalent secure government networks already exist, such as the Defense Department's Secret IP Router Network. Other responses questioned the propriety of isolating a government network on the grounds it might hide public information.

'We need to think about that proposition,' Clarke said.

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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