Washington Readies Cybersecurity Battle Plan


WASHINGTON – A long-awaited U.S. cybersecurity report, which could lay the groundwork for how the United States will fight data-network thefts of defence and corporate secrets, money and personal identities, will be released Friday, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Tuesday.

President Barack Obama ordered a 60-day review of federal cybersecurity efforts in February. That review was completed last month but not released.

“The administration recognises the very serious threats public- and private-sector networks face from cyber-crime and cyber-attack,” said Gibbs.

“The administration has also committed to establishing the proper structure within the government to ensure cybersecurity issues continue to receive top-level attention and enhanced coordination,” he said.

Debate has raged in the high-tech community over whether the task of ensuring cybersecurity should be given to the Department of Homeland Security or the National Security Agency, responsible for breaking codes and electronic spying.

Another issue is whether the top cybersecurity official will be based in the White House.

Holes in U.S. cybersecurity defenses have allowed a series of major incidents, including the theft of hundreds of millions of dollars from banks.

There have also been recent reports of the theft of sensitive military information and penetration of the U.S. electrical grid by cyber-spies who left behind software programs that could be used to disrupt the system.

The centre for Strategic and International Studies said in a December report that the U.S. defence Department has said its computers are probed hundreds of thousands of times each day.

The review was led by Melissa Hathaway, who worked for former President George W. Bush’s administration as cyber-coordination executive under Mike McConnell, Bush’s director of national intelligence.

Obama’s proposed fiscal 2010 budget, announced late February, included $355 million for the Department of Homeland Security to make private- and public-sector cyber infrastructure more secure.

Companies in the cybersecurity market range from security-software makers Symantec Corp and McAfee Inc , to traditional defence contractors such as Northrop Grumman Corp and Lockheed Martin Corp, to information technology companies such as CACI International .

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