Security adviser warns of cyberthreats

Officials must still figure out how to fully secure the nation's critical infrastructure against cyber attacks, a top homeland security adviser said Tuesday.

General John Gordon, retired lieutenant general from the U.S. Air Force, presidential assistant and adviser to the Homeland Security Council, said attacks over electronic networks might become a threat as great as weapons of mass destruction.

"It's serious. It's real. It's upon us," Gordon told a meeting of the National Infrastructure Advisory Council in Washington, D.C. "What we really see in this open world is the testing of cyber weapons everyday."

The council, which consists of a gathering of industry and government officials, is expected to issue recommendations for tougher information security protections in October. It is struggling to figure out how to protect both public and private facilities and networks.

One of the council's toughest challenges is determining what should be disclosed to private industry and the public and when it should do so, officials told the council. A working group, led by executives from Symantec Corp. and Cisco Systems Inc., said they are developing guidelines for government and industry.

Those disclosure guidelines should take national security needs into account, said Robert Liscouski, assistant secretary for Infrastructure Protection at the Homeland Security Department and a member of the council.

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