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Lawmaker proposes creation of cyber-National Guard
From: InfoSec News <isn () c4i org>
Date: Thu, 4 Oct 2001 03:02:10 -0500 (CDT)


[I'm game, where do I sign up?  -  WK]

By LISA HOFFMAN , Scripps Howard News Service 

WASHINGTON (October 3, 2001 9:43 a.m. EDT) - After the World Trade
Center collapse on Sept. 11, it took nine days for New York City to
ask for help in setting up a computerized clearinghouse so families
could check hospitals for their loved ones or file missing persons

In the meantime, relatives tried desperately to call hospitals - only
to find telephone lines cut and switchboards jammed, leaving them no
choice but to trudge across the city hunting for information. Rescue
workers and city officials were similarly stymied by the city's
telecommunications catastrophe.

In its wake, Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., says the nation needs a
cyber-National Guard poised to spring into action after devastating
events, including natural disasters, to set up information systems or
otherwise quickly patch the rips in the nation's high-tech

"It seems to me that what this country needs is essentially a
technology equivalent of the National Guard, an emergency technology
guard, that could be deployed in communities across the nation when we
face tragedies such as we saw in New York City," said Wyden, who is
chairman of the Senate subcommittee on science, technology and space.

He is calling his suggested entity the National Emergency Technology
Guard - or NETGuard - and envisions it as consisting of volunteers
from major and medium-sized firms who would be trained in specific
tasks and supplied with computer equipment, satellite dishes and other
equipment needed to patch systems back together or create new ones.

The guard could help hospitals collate and organize information
citywide to accommodate requests for help, offers of aid and anxious
queries from relatives. They could do the same for the Red Cross,
which has been swamped with so many voice- and e-mails that its
communications system repeatedly crashed.

Few taxpayer dollars would be needed under Wyden's plan, which would
call on the private sector to foot much of the bill by paying for
training and supplying the hardware and software needed.

"It seems to me that in our leading technology companies in this
nation there are the brains and the equipment to put in place
NETGuard," Wyden said in a Senate speech last week.

Wyden's office said he currently is conferring with information
technology executives, asking for their ideas and support.

At least one isn't much impressed, at least at first blush.

Harris Miller, president of the Information Technology Association of
America, said he had not yet discussed the idea with Wyden, but said
he didn't see the need for such a program.

"It doesn't strike me as particularly necessary or appropriate," said
the head of the most influential high-tech industry group in

Miller said private industry already is collaborating with government
to prepare for information technology disasters and manage their
aftermaths. But he said he would be happy to explore the idea with
Wyden. "I'm just not real sure what such a guard would do."

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