Clarke stumps for Net security center

Presidential adviser Richard Clarke has asked industry to support an Internet operations center that could give early warning of global network threats.

Clarke, who heads the president's Critical Infrastructure Protection Board, said the center would not be a back-door attempt at government regulation of the Internet. Although government could provide money, the center probably would be privately operated, he said.

Clarke spoke at a Washington users' conference this month hosted by Symantec Corp. of Cupertino, Calif.

The operations center, dubbed INOC, was proposed in the draft National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace, at, released last month for 60 days' public comment. The comments will not be made public because of White House privacy policy. But an analysis summarizing the responses would be published, Clarke said. He also defended the draft against criticisms about too much industry input.

'I kind of resent it, personally,' he said of suggestions that the draft was unduly influenced by corporate interests. 'There is a middle ground between the heavy hand of federal regulation, which we reject, and a completely hands-off approach.'

Clarke said he envisions wide cooperation for an INOC. The idea is from the nation's top Internet providers and telecommunications carriers.

Not too pricey

He said the voluntary operation would probably be hosted by a federally funded research group such as the CERT Coordination Center at Carnegie Mellon University, Mitre Corp. or an Energy Department national laboratory.

'I don't think it would be all that expensive,' he said. 'The sensor networks are already out there.' Almost two dozen organizations now have their fingers on various pulses of the Internet, he said. What is missing is a way to bring together a real-time picture.

He likened it to the Distant Early Warning Line of radar stations built across the Arctic during the Cold War.

'We haven't spent a penny to create a DEW Line in cyberspace,' he said.

Clarke said his office could advise the federal government to move to the next version of the Internet Protocol, IPv6. Most of the world's packet networks are still running IPv4, but some countries, notably Japan, have adopted IPv6 to gain address space and better security.

'It doesn't do a lot of good for the world to use two Internet Protocols,' he said. During the transition, 'we do run some security risks' by continuing to use IPv4 systems while others have the newer version.

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.


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