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White House asks industry to develop secure federal network
From: InfoSec News <isn () c4i org>
Date: Fri, 26 Oct 2001 04:55:20 -0500 (CDT)


By Bara Vaida
National Journal's Technology Daily 
October 25, 2001 

President Bush's special adviser on cybersecurity on Wednesday told
hundreds of information technology specialists that he wants the
private sector's recommendations on how to build a secure nationwide
intranet for government agencies and their estimates on its cost.

Richard Clarke also said the private sector would build the intranet,
to be called Govnet, and then lease it back to the government in
exchange for a service fee.

"We want to build as secure an intranet as possible--one that
taxpayers can rely on to be 100 percent safe ... a network that is
separate from the routers connected to the Internet," Clarke told IT
officials gathered at the Commerce Department.

He said there has been a 66 percent increase in virus attacks on
computer networks in the past year. He added that computer viruses are
becoming smarter and mutating, raising the possibility of a
"devastating cyber attack" on government computer systems.

"Our enemies are smart, and they know how to use our technology
against us," he said.

Two weeks ago, at the direction of Clarke, the General Services
Administration posted a request for information seeking private-sector
ideas on the possibility of building a special network for key
government functions. Clarke said he had been working on the idea for
about a year and first briefed Bush about a private government network
in May. He said Bush expressed interest but wanted to know the cost.

"We have had a variety of tech people ask us, 'What can we do to
help?'" he said. "It is in that spirit that we ask you to build an
intranet ... and to tell us how much it will cost."

Clarke underscored that Govnet would not replace government agencies'
use of the Internet to provide public information but rather would be
used for critical agency information only. Each agency would pay a
service fee to connect to Govnet, and each agency would decide what it
considers critical and top-secret information.

No agency could connect to the Govnet unless it had demonstrated a
level of computer security to ensure that no intruders could access
Govnet. Clarke noted that no government agency has that level of
computer security now.

Private-sector recommendations on Govnet are due Nov. 21, and GSA
expects to post an analysis of the recommendations and an idea for
moving forward by the end of January. If the administration agrees to
ask high-tech companies to build Govnet, officials estimate that it
would take about a year-and-a-half to launch the network.

Several news reports over the past week have quoted security experts
as criticizing the Govnet idea, charging that no computer network can
be completely insulated from attack.

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