[ISN] Tenet warns of terrorists combining physical, telecommunications attacks

InfoSec News isn at c4i.org
Thu Dec 2 01:49:02 EST 2004

Forwarded from: William Knowles <wk at c4i.org>


By Chris Strohm
cstrohm at govexec.com 
December 1, 2004 

Former CIA Director George Tenet on Wednesday said greater government
regulation of the Internet and telecommunications networks is needed
in order to guard against terrorist attacks.

The U.S. intelligence community needs to consider how terrorists might
attempt to couple an attack on telecommunication networks with a
physical attack, Tenet said during a keynote speech at the E-Gov
Institute's homeland security conference in Washington.

"Efforts at physical security will not be enough, because the thinking
enemy that we confront is going to school on our network
vulnerabilities as well, and I think the two are inextricably linked,"  
he said. "The number of known potential adversaries conducting
research on information attacks is increasing rapidly and includes
intelligence services, military organizations and nonstate entities."

According to Tenet "a loose collection of regional [terrorist]
networks" now "thrive independently" worldwide by using
telecommunications and the Internet to communicate with and learn from
each other at almost no cost.

Telecommunications technology for government and business should have
built-in protections, Tenet said, such as intrusion detection and
protection systems, antivirus software, authentication and identify
management services, and encryption.

"I know that these actions would be controversial in this age where we
still think the Internet is a free and open society with no control or
accountability," he added. "But, ultimately, the Wild West must give
way to governance and control."

Many national media outlets were not allowed to attend Tenet's speech.  
The Associated Press reported that Tenet insisted that natoinal media
be kept out, only allowing in reporters for trade publications that
cover the government.

Tenet was also critical of the direction that intelligence reform is
taking in Washington. "There's a big focus on structural change at the
top. My perspective is, this is all about data," he said.

The U.S. government has "an enormous amount of knowledge" on terrorist
activities that should be disseminated to state and local officials,
Tenet continued. "We have to start treating them as equals with regard
to data and teach them as much as we possibly can by pushing data to
them at the lowest levels of classification. [We should] even begin a
very serious process of learning how to write at the unclassified
level so we can educate everybody about what we see going on in the

"I really believe data sharing and the movement of data is the most
critical feature of reform. I think that's where this game gets won
and lost," he said. "We're having discussions about power
relationships between people in Washington. At the end of day, I don't
think that's the right conversation."

Legislation to overhaul the U.S. intelligence community is currently
stalled in Congress. A key component of that legislation is creating
an intelligence director to oversee the nation's 15 intelligence

Tenet reiterated criticism he expressed to the 9/11 commission earlier
this year that the person leading U.S. intelligence agencies should be
affiliated with an agency. "If you're not getting your hands dirty
every day in terms of risk, I don't think you can lead the men and
women of American intelligence, or capably inform the president," he

"Communications without intelligence is noise;  Intelligence
without communications is irrelevant." Gen Alfred. M. Gray, USMC
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