Sandy Berger fans cybersecurity leadership fires

Sandy Berger fans cybersecurity leadership fires

SAN FRANCISCO'Former national security adviser Samuel R. "Sandy" Berger says the nation needs to spend more money on cybersecurity.

"In general, the money has not flowed as quickly as I would like," Berger said yesterda. "That is partly a congressional problem, partly an administration problem. We spent a lot of time last year on bureaucratic reorganization," leaving IT security spending hanging.

"That is unacceptable. Congress needs to put its money where its mouth is," he said.

Berger, who served during the Clinton administration, was a keynote speaker yesterday at the RSA 2003 Security Conference. In a talk with reporters, he said the Bush administration has made a good start by issuing the National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace and including information security among the responsibilities of the new Homeland Security Department.

"I think the effort of cybersecurity has been among the stronger things we've done in national security," partly because of the foundation laid by the Clinton administration and the continuity of a number of top advisers, such as Richard Clarke.

But with the departure of Clarke from his position as a White House adviser and the dissolution of the President's Board on Critical Infrastructure Protection, attention seems to have slipped, he said, echoing Clarke's own comments recently to House lawmakers [see story at www.gcn.com/vol1_no1/daily-updates/21652-1.html].

"I'd like to see this receiving more leadership than it has," Berger said. "We do have to give this the highest priority. It needs to be driven from the top."

Federal spending on cybersecurity can have the dual effect of improving government security and priming the pump for technology development, he said.

"There is always a danger when there is a spasm of spending that we will spend some of it inefficiently," Berger said. "We have to be careful of that. But I err on the side of putting the accelerator pretty far down toward the floor."

He said the current budget deficits are cutting into the nation's willingness to spend what's needed on cybersecurity.

"We have the money to do this. There are choices we need to make and there are things we cannot skimp on. The risk is just too great," Berger said.

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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