Clarke seeks immune intranet

GOVNET RFI

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In his first full day as the head of federal cybersecurity, Richard Clarke called for information from industry on developing a private intranet to handle—and protect—the most critical government functions.

Working through the General Services Administration's Federal Technology Service, Clarke released a request for information on possible solutions for a government network that would be shared only by authorized users and with no connections to the Internet or other networks.

Dubbed GovNet, the IP network would be isolated from the viruses, worms and other attacks moving through the public Internet.

Clarke, who was named Oct. 9 as the new adviser to the president on cyberspace security, has been talking about such a network for several months as the national coordinator for security, infrastructure and counterterrorism at the National Security Council.

With the potential for distributed denial-of-service attacks or other threats taking down key government services, administration officials have been considering the possibility of physically removing the systems supporting those services from the public Internet, where they are open to external attack.

Clarke and other NSC officials have mentioned the Federal Aviation Administration's air traffic control system as one potential user for the separate network.

Initially, the around-the-clock GovNet will only be for data traffic, to be secured with encryption techniques approved by the National Security Agency. But it will also provide secure voice communications and potentially video, according to the RFI.

Beyond the high-level description of requirements, the RFI leaves the specifics of potential solutions up to the vendors, who have until Nov. 21 to submit proposals.

Other requirements, including security policies, management requirements, network capacities and service level agreements, will be determined after the initial RFI responses are evaluated.

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