House aids net defense

Congress targeted the Pentagon's "most serious vulnerabilities" with a $150

million increase in the fiscal 2001 Defense appropriations bill for information

assurance and computer network security programs.

The House approved a total of more than $250 million for Defense Department

information technology programs, which included $36 mil-lion for hardware

and software designed to help the Pentagon monitor its global networks for

suspicious activity.

The funding boost comes in the wake of the "love bug" computer virus,

which infected hundreds of thousands of computers worldwide, including almost

every major federal agency. Although such virus attacks have highlighted

the gaps in the nation's critical infrastructure, the threat actually is

much more serious, according to a House Appropriations Committee report

on the bill.

"The threats posed by such seemingly random acts — in themselves real — pale in comparison to the potential dangers posed by those who seek to

damage American interests," the report said.

Congress praised the Pentagon's "Defense in Depth" information security

strategy and recommended that DOD be used as an example for all government

agencies to follow. "The committee believes that a concerted, focused effort

is needed to protect key information systems, not only by those within the

national security community but at all levels of government," the report

stated.

Although there is no "silver bullet" to solve the problem of information

security, according to the report, "a more appropriate response is a broad

approach intended to create multiple levels of protection and avoidance

of any single point of failure."

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