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ComputerWire: IT Industry Intelligence

The US president's internet security advisor hit the streets yesterday seeking industry input into a proposed cyber security framework.

Richard Clarke's first stop was Sun Microsystems Inc's Networks conference in San Francisco, California, where he appealed to delegates for feedback on the document.

The government has worked with major industrial sectors to produce 70 proposals it believes will secure America's critical infrastructure against attack. Members of the public have two months to submit feedback on the proposal.

Initial feedback this week called the document useful because it does not mandate action. However, some believe the proposed framework also lacks teeth.

Clarke was welcomed on stage by veteran cryptography campaigner Whifield Diffie, Sun's chief security officer, who applauded the government's decision to seek public input.

Diffie has been intensely critical of past government attempts to mandate and control areas of security such as cryptography. Clarke used a mixture of patriotism and fear to drum-up industry feedback.

"Right now what we don't have is your input," Clarke said. "[We] need that to protect our country and strengthen the economy," he said.

"A lot of our critical infrastructure today is really not secure. There is a real threat," he said. The threat comes from terrorist and hostile governments, Clarke said.

Clarke said organizations must move away from waiting for government organizations like the FBI to identify a potential threat, and identify threats and future risks. Organizations must also look to trading partners as a source of risk.

He attacked those who believed a certain amount of loss - caused through cyber attack - is acceptable. Clarke estimated the cost of the Nimda virus at $2bn to $3bn.

"Some people think that's the cost of doing business. We thought terrorism and Al Qaeda were a type of nuisance. We thought the worst that could happen was in the past... the worst has happened.

"The vulnerabilities are there and it's only a matter of time before its used against your company and your country," Clarke said.

© ComputerWire

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