Clinton's Big Plan against cyberterror

Gigolo-in-chief seeks 'serious money' from Congress

US President Bill Clinton yesterday vowed to seek US $91 million from Congress to develop new tricks and tips to identify and defeat cyberterrorists bent on bringing civilisation to its knees.

Clinton said that "there has never been a time like this, in which we have the power to create knowledge and the power to create havoc, and both those powers rest in the same hands."

Pointing out that US "critical systems, from power structures to air traffic control, are connected and run by computers," the president urged all good Americans to "make those systems more secure so that America can be more secure." Clinton's new $91 million cyberterror initiative is part of a larger, $2 billion package for improving the security of America's information infrastructure.

The Clinton Administration has lately been much worried about information warfare and terrorism, as the country's current and quite phenomenal economic boom is widely attributed, whether rightly or not, to its increasing exploitation of information technology.

Clinton's proposal also includes a programme of university scholarships for students involved in computer security, provided they agree to perform some manner of public service after graduation. "This programme will create a new generation of computer security specialists who will work to defend our nation's computers," the President chirped.

Last July, the administration announced controversial plans to create a security network called FIDNET to protect government networks against cyber-terrorists and malicious hackers, to be administered by the US General Accounting Office (GAO). The GAO has reported that it believes government and commercial networks to be at high risk for a crippling attack, and concluded that the federal government is doing too little to prevent it.

But now that Y2K has come and gone without a fraction of the mayhem predicted by the US government, the GAO is starting to sound a bit like Chicken Little. No matter, the Yanks can easily afford to be over-cautious. And perhaps with an economy so dependent on IT as theirs, they can't afford not to be. ®

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