Cyberdefense alarms ring on Hill

A senior member of the House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday criticized

President Clinton for not using his position as the nation's commander in

chief to raise the average citizen's awareness of the national security

threat posed by hacker attacks and cyberwar.

During a hearing on information assurance and critical infrastructure protection,

Rep. Curt Weldon (R-Pa.), chairman of the Research and Development Subcommittee,

chastised the president because Clinton's 89-minute State of the Union address

included only 90 seconds dedicated to national security and cyberdefense

issues.

Arthur Money, the Pentagon's assistant secretary of defense for command,

control, communications and intelligence, told the committee that the Defense

Department last year experienced 22,126 cyberattacks against its systems.

The revelation led Weldon to criticize the intelligence community for not

yet developing a national intelligence estimate detailing specific cyberwar

threats. Neil Lane, assistant to the president for science and technology,

said he would request a timeline from the intelligence community as to when

a national estimate will be available.

"I'm surprised we haven't asked [the intelligence community] yet," said

Weldon. "If this isn't the state of the union, I don't know what is."

Clinton gave his State of the Union speech two months ago and has since

held the first-ever cybersecurity summit at the White House in the aftermath

of recent denial-of-service attacks against popular e-commerce Internet

sites.

Nevertheless, John Tritak, director of the Critical Infrastructure Assurance

Office, said officials must find a way to get people to pay attention to

cyberthreats the way they once did to the Cold War and the threat of nuclear

weapons.

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