[ISN] Former cybersecurity chief opposes new regulations

InfoSec News isn at c4i.org
Tue May 25 02:15:16 EDT 2004


By William New
National Journal's Technology Daily
May 24, 2004

Richard Clarke, former White House cybersecurity chief, is the first
to admit that more than a year after that office completed a national
cybersecurity strategy, attacks via the Internet are still on the
rise. But that is not the fault of the strategy, and does not mean
that more government intervention is needed, he said.

In a recent interview with National Journal's Technology Daily, Clarke
criticized the Bush administration for failing to implement the
National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace and for cutting funding for
cybersecurity research.

"They've actually cut the overall amount of money for research in
cybersecurity," he said. "They've not created the federal government
as an example of how to do cybersecurity."

Clarke defended the strategy he oversaw, saying that it "absolutely"  
reflected his views, and indicating that no changes are needed in it.  
He took issue with press reports from the time of the strategy's
release that suggested it had been "watered down" through consultation
with industry and others.

"What we did was we had a very complex document that was the result of
a lot of input from a lot of groups in and out of government," he
said. "We had 70 or 80 ... recommendations. ... So we clustered them
... into five recommendations and simplified the document. It wasn't
watered down."

He also contended with assertions that the earlier version had more
"teeth," in terms of calling for federal regulations. He said a strong
public-private partnership is critical to success against cyber
attacks, and frowned upon new regulation.

"I don't mind regulation if it's already there in industry
traditionally regulated [such as electric power, banking and
healthcare], and I think if you're going to have regulation, it ought
to be effective regulation."

Clarke also said, "The FBI is light years ahead of where it was three
or four years ago, but where it was three or four years ago is in the
Stone Age." But he said FBI and the Homeland Security Department are
moving slowly to put in place a sophisticated network for federal,
state and local law enforcement. "They are underfunded and there is a
certain lack of creativity," he said.

Clarke, who was the White House counter-terrorism adviser before
moving to cybersecurity, said, "Terrorists use the Internet just like
anybody else." But he has "yet to see any evidence per se that
terrorists have used the Internet to launch attacks and cyber attacks.  
But then we very seldom know who does launch cyber attacks."

Clarke left the administration shortly after the strategy's release
early in 2003, and is now in the private sector in northern Virginia,
consulting on cybersecurity for firms such as Symantec and RSA

Asked about this year's presidential election, Clarke said he is
"still waiting" for a technology policy statement from the campaign of
Democratic candidate John Kerry and would not say which candidate he
supports. "I think I'm going to not publicly endorse anyone. I
certainly think we need a management change, let's put it that way."

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