U.S. should fund R&D for secure Internet protocols, Clarke says

U.S. should fund R&D for secure Internet protocols, Clarke says

Presidential cybersecurity advisor Richard Clarke today renewed his call for government funding to support R&D for more secure Internet protocols.

Clarke told reporters that security and reliability of the basic protocols underlying the Internet have not received enough attention because no one has a proprietary interest in them.

'We have begun to think about the tragedy of the commons,' the economic theory that no one takes responsibility for property that is held in common, he said. 'The commons of cyberspace are the protocols. The question is, what is the role of the U.S. government in regard to this?'

The draft National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace, released in September by the President's Critical Infrastructure Protection Board, headed by Clarke, says the role should be financial support. The strategy recommends funding in fiscal 2004 for research on security for intrusion detection, applications and protocols.

The challenges of creating secure versions of basic Internet components such as the Domain Name System, which came under attack in October, and the Border Gateway Protocol, have been discussed for years. 'But nothing much has happened,' Clarke said, because nobody is funding the work.

Clarke said he has been in talks with the security group of the Internet Engineering Task Force. Though wary of government control, IETF agrees that federal money would help the task of developing secure protocols and creating testbeds to test them.

Although funding would depend on Congress, which has yet to pass most of the 2003 budget, Clarke was optimistic that money would be available.

'We're probably talking about a few million a year to support IETF,' he said.

Clarke met with representatives of the European Commission in Brussels this week. He said the commission expects to form a European Network Security Agency next year to deal with similar matters.

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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