Don't just complain about security
- By Diane Frank
- Oct 17, 2000
BALTIMORE — Federal agencies must work more closely with industry to get
government security needs built into products as they are developed, rather
than going to vendors for fixes after the fact, according to public- and
At the National Information Systems Security Conference Monday, Lt.
Gen. Michael Hayden, director of the National Security Agency and chief
of the Defense Department's Central Security Service, said both the defense
and civilian sides of government now run and depend on commercial off-the-shelf
software that does not provide the level of security assurance needed by
In order to get the operating systems, applications and security software
up to a point where the government feels comfortable, new partnerships must
be formed with industry and old partnerships must be deepened, he said.
Just as the Air Force is built on cooperation with the aeronautics industry,
"the National Security Agency must in fact ultimately be the military expression
of the telecommunications and information technology industries," he said.
That means not just complaining to industry but working with it on potential
improvements, he said. "We need to do a better job of clearly articulating
our needs to the vendor community," said William Mehuron, director of the
Information Technology Laboratory at the National Institute of Standards
And it is important that agencies get involved in product development
now because next-generation networks are being built, and security must
be part of the products from the ground up, said David Farber, the Alfred
Fitler Moore Professor of Telecommunications Systems at the University of
Pennsylvania. As the new all-optical networks are developed, the computing
arena will need to build an entirely new architecture of systems and software
to work with those networks, and security will be almost impossible to add
after the fact.
"This is the opportune time to look forward and architect into these
systems the security we need not only for the military side, but more importantly,
for the civilian side," Farber said.