The Bush Administration highlighted the importance of securing the government's and private sector's use of the Internet in the fight against terrorism with its latest National Strategy for Homeland Security published on Wednesday.
The 53-page document, unveiled at a White House ceremony, builds on the first National Strategy for Homeland Security published in 2002, calling out the overarching and varied nature of threats to cyberspace. The document, which sets out the Administration's approach to combatting terrorism in the United States, emphasized that most of the services that Americans rely on are in some way affected by the Internet.
"Terrorists increasingly exploit the Internet to communicate, proselytize, recruit, raise funds, and conduct training and operational planning," the Strategy states. "Hostile foreign governments have the technical and financial resources to support advanced network exploitation and launch attacks on the informational and physical elements of our cyber infrastructure. Criminal hackers threaten our Nations economy and the personal information of our citizens, and they also could pose a threat if wittingly or unwittingly recruited by foreign intelligence or terrorist groups."
Two weeks ago, a video reportedly leaked by officials at the Department of Homeland Security showed a staged test that demonstrated the potential impact of a cyberattack on an electrical generator. While the DHS has been criticized in the past for giving short shrift to cybersecurity, the latest Strategy appears to recognize the importance of the Internet on the health of critical infrastructure.
However, the document also made the case for the Bush Administration's assertions that more widespread surveillance powers are necessary in the age of the Internet. Facing criticism over its warrantless surveillance program, President Bush argued that new legislation must be passed to grant intelligence agents the ability to secretively monitor conversations between foreign citizens and Americans.
"The final bill must meet certain criteria: It must give our intelligence professionals the tools and flexibility they need to protect our country," President Bush said in a prepared statement. "It must keep the intelligence gap firmly closed, and ensure that protections intended for the American people are not extended to terrorists overseas who are plotting to harm us. And it must grant liability protection to companies who are facing multi-billion-dollar lawsuits only because they are believed to have assisted in the efforts to defend our nation following the 9/11 attacks."
If you have tips or insights on this topic, please contact SecurityFocus.
Posted by: Robert Lemos