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DHS's Greg Garcia in the hot seat

SANS - Survey on application security programs

It was just this week that a research firm from Atlanta came out with research about a botnet they call Kraken, evidently it goes under other names such as Bobax. It's a massive botnet, and it's living in many cases inside of fortune 500 companies and presumably other places it shouldn't be. If Fortune 500 companies aren't taking steps to prevent this kind of thing, what evidence do we have that we're really on the right track when it comes to preventing attacks against important infrastructure?

Good question. I think a lot of companies are taking the right steps and a lot of companies are not taking the right steps and part of my role is to communicate the business proposition to these companies as to why they need to take steps to protect against threats that they're not actually seeing. And that's the challenge from a lot of the companies - they feel they need to actually see the threat but sometimes they don't know that they're being infiltrated.

This conference is evidence - there are what 17,000 people here - that there is an increasing awareness. So even though there are a lot of companies that are responsible and doing the right thing, our networks really are only as strong as the weakest link and because we are so interconnected, if there are companies that are not doing what they need to do to protect their networks, that in turn may be jeopardizing the security of companies that very well may be doing the right thing, and the federal government as well.

So do you use a carrot, or at some point do you use a stick?

I think it's really a combination, but a stick model, if you mean regulatory, I would be concerned that we could through a regulatory model not keep up with evolving technology, we could not keep up with evolving threats and that what instead we need to do is to push the market place to provide market-based incentives for companies that in order for me as one company to do business with you as another company, I need to be convinced that you're doing the right thing with you're networks.

If you're going to connect to me I don't want to catch your virus. I as your customer have to demand this upon you as my vendor or my service provider. That's the model we're trying to push. The stick has to be coming from the market place to the market place, not from the government to the marketplace.

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