Industry wants administration to focus on cybercrime

Industry wants administration to focus on cybercrime

IT industry executives yesterday called for the creation of a presidential commission on organized cybercrime and identity theft.

The proposal was made during two days of talks between chief technology officers of prominent hardware and software companies and government policymakers and administration officials. The Business Software Alliance organized the meetings.

Among administration officials involved in the discussions were John Marburger, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy; Phillip J. Bond, Commerce Department undersecretary for technology; and Karen Evans, the Office of Management and Budget's e-government and IT administrator.

'We talked about a commission, which I think resonated with the administration,' Chris Voice, vice president of technology for Entrust Technologies Inc. of Richardson,
Texas, told reporters afterward.

The concern is that eroding confidence in online transactions will slow adoption of new technology and devalue existing IT investments. Voice called this a 'compelling macro-economic argument.'

'We don't want to say the sky is falling, but it is something that should be addressed,' he said.

The commission would produce short-term recommendations for government, industry and consumers to raise awareness of threats and the defenses against them.

Christopher Bolin, CTO of McAfee Inc. of Santa Clara, Calif., said new examples of adware and spyware now outnumber conventional viruses among the malicious code the company identifies. They represent a more organized and more serious threat, he said.

'It's a completely different guy at the other end than we're used to dealing with,' he said. 'He's got a business plan.'

Laws already prohibit many kinds of spam and online fraud, and anti-spyware legislation has been introduced in Congress. But there is a limit to what legal sanctions can do.

'Technology has done more to stop spam than the law has,' said Robert A. Clyde, CTO of Symantec Corp. of Cupertino, Calif.

But laws provide a necessary deterrence and definition for malicious activity, and the executives said a presidential commission could help focus attention on the threats of cybercrime. It also could help deal with what Microsoft CTO Craig Mundie called the 'porous borders of the Internet,' which make enforcement difficult.

'We're asking the government to do what only government can do, which is engage with other governments,' Mundie said.

Other concerns discussed with government officials included government funding for basic research and development programs, education of a future IT workforce and reform of intellectual property laws, particularly the IT patent process.

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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