White House casting cyber nets

USA PATRIOT Act - Sec. 1016 Critical Infrastructure Protection

The White House is moving forward with several information technology initiatives to try to create a more secure government and nation — including a cyberwarning network — even before the board set up to lead such work has its first meeting.

President Bush established the Critical Infrastructure Protection Board through an executive order last month to serve as a central point for ideas and initiatives for cybersecurity in government and reaching out to the private sector.

The board's purpose is to build on work started during the Clinton administration, particularly in regard to information sharing, Paul Kurtz, director of critical infrastructure for the Office of Homeland Security, said Nov. 16 at the New Reality of E-Security conference sponsored by the National Science Foundation's Digital Government Program.

Among the top initiatives is the Cyber Warning Information Network, a secure communications system to link all of the federal cyberalert centers, Kurtz said. The National Communications System has been working on the hotline-style network along with organizations such as the Federal Computer Incident Response Center since the beginning of the year.

When the network is in place, the alert centers will be able to ensure that communications will be available during incidents and attacks. Eventually, the network will be expanded to include the private-sector information sharing and analysis centers, Kurtz said.

The board also will also be pushing the development and implementation of a National Infrastructure Simulation and Analysis Center. The center is an idea from Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) that Congress incorporated into the Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism (USA PATRIOT) Act of 2001, signed by Bush in October. The act authorizes $20 million for the Defense Department in fiscal 2002.

The center will provide modeling, simulation and analysis of the critical infrastructure — including the cyber, telecommunications and physical infrastructures — across federal, state and local governments and the private sector.

The center's work is designed to enable the government to better understand the relationships among systems and networks, and to determine ways to mitigate threats to those systems and the infrastructure as a whole.

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