Net Guard would function as a virtual National Guard

Net Guard would function as a virtual National Guard

Two bills to strengthen the nation's cyberdefenses will come up this month before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), a sponsor of the Science and Technology Emergency Mobilization Act, said his bill would establish volunteer rapid response teams to help restore critical infrastructures in the wake of disasters. The teams, which would be known as the Net Guard, would function like an IT equivalent of the National Guard.

Another bill, the Cyber Security R&D Act that the House passed in February, would make more than $1 billion available over the next five years for security research and education programs. The bill would fund $743 million through the National Science Foundation and $302 million through the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

Lance J. Hoffman, professor of computer science at George Washington University in Washington, told the subcommittee that information security research has been a poor stepchild. It cannot compete with established disciplines because 'students and faculty have been driven by available funding to work on problems that are better known,' he said.

Hoffman said background checks should be required for Net Guard volunteers under the Science and Technology Emergency Mobilization Act. The national Net Guard database would have to be adequately secured to ensure privacy and restrict unauthorized access, he said. And the guard as described by the act might be too ambitious, he added, whereas local and regional programs would be more workable.

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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