A strong Internet is a secure Internet

The best way to secure the Internet is to make the Internet itself stronger,

a member of the President's Information Technology Advisory Committee testified

Wednesday before Congress.

Many security problems faced by agencies and industry stem from administrators

not paying close enough attention to their systems, Raj Reddy, co-chairman

of the PITAC and a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon University,

testified before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee's

Communications Subcommittee.

"Rather than leaving the Internet vulnerable because a few persons or organizations

are careless or reckless, we should develop an information infrastructure

that is not dependent on voluntary compliance with security practices and

policies," Reddy said, suggesting the creation of a "self-healing" network.

The concept of survivability — ensuring that services are available when

needed and that information is delivered in a timely fashion — runs through

many of the funding recommendations in the PITAC's February 1999 report

to the president, "Information Technology Research: Investing in Our Future."

The PITAC is reviewing federal research plans and will issue new recommendations

later this year.

In making the Internet more reliable, a self-healing network would provide

security by catching problems as they happen, he said.

"A self-healing network would work similar to the human immune system,"

Reddy said. "It would constantly monitor the system, analyze what is in

the system, and if it finds something wrong within the system, immediately

begin actions to remedy the problem."

To develop the technology behind a more dependable Internet, Reddy urged

the federal government to fund a national network test bed. Such an arrangement

would be similar to the partnership created by several federal agencies

and universities to develop and test the high-speed Next Generation Internet.

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