Government fails to strike a balance on security, executive says

Government fails to strike a balance on security, executive says

LAS VEGAS'The government is doing a poor job of implementing security, both IT and physical, since the Sept. 11 terror attacks, said security expert Bruce Schneier.

Schneier, talking with reporters at the Black Hat Briefings computer security conference, described government cybersecurity as 'abysmal.'

'The stuff that is going on with Interior is endemic,' he said, referring to the recent court order to disconnect most Interior Department systems from the Internet because the department could not ensure that American Indian trust fund data is secure. (Interior was given a grace period to show these systems are secure.)

Schneier, founder and chief technology officer of Counterpane Internet Security Inc. of Cupertino, Calif., sees security as a complex balancing act of the interests of a variety of parties. He said most government agencies are 'clueless' when it comes to striking the right balance. He was grilled at a recent congressional hearing about the likelihood of criminals or terrorists using technology in planning and committing crimes or attacks. He said that is a misplaced concern.

'Infrastructure is used by good guys and bad guys, always,' he said. 'But there are so many more good guys than bad that we're better off with the infrastructure than without it.'

He said he is worried about the threat of restrictions being placed on private use of technology in the name of security. 'Most people are good,' he said, 'but there is a lot of bad security out there.'

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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