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Securing cyberspace against war, terror and red tape

DHS's Greg Garcia in the hot seat

The essential guide to IT transformation

Do you think that some sort of digital Pearl Harbor is possible in the next decade and if so, how likely do you think it is?

Our networks are so distributed and resilient and redundant that a massive attack that would bring down the internet - I don't think that's possible. I direct your attention to a report from the Business Roundtable last fall. What they said was: We have to envision a situation where you could have multiple coordinated attacks against different pockets of the internet infrastructure such that it degrades confidence in the internet as our mode of doing business.

If we lose confidence in that and we cease to want to use it, or we cease to be able to use it, then our business continuity is at stake. So we as CEOs have a responsibility to ensure we have business continuity. That's what cyber security is about.

It's about the operations of my business and I as CEO have a responsibility to my shareholders and to my board of directors to ensure that I'm paying attention to this and am taking protective measures and investing in the technology, investing in the people, investing in the best practices and policies to make sure we're doing the right thing.

Talk to me a little bit about your own experience with security. Have you ever been a victim of, or worked for the defense of, a network that was under attack?

I as a home user do everything I am supposed to do. I keep my anti-virus up to date and keep my firewall turned on. I have seen in the past spyware infect my personal computer, just as everybody has. My role at DHS is to co-ordinate all of those efforts from the operational side of my US CERT to the preparedness side of building the culture of securing across the country. I've not been a hacker. There are those who know how to do it, but I'm more interested in national policy and national strategy.

Over the last year there have been dozens of reports of flash drives, hard drives, iPods, all kinds of different devices you can buy at Best Buy or wherever else, with spyware loaded on to them. Do you worry that it's also possible to put on a much more nefarious software that has implications for homeland security?

Absolutely. We are acutely aware of potential vulnerabilities across the global supply chain. We live in a global manufacturing environment and that is the natural order of a global business. But with that comes risks that anywhere along the supply chain we could see vulnerabilities into products that are manufactured abroad, whether its hardware or software. This is something we have put more resources into at DHS and that is working with the private sector to consider how we can get a handle on the global supply chain.

Thanks very much.

Good talking with you. ®

The essential guide to IT transformation

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