[ISN] White House asks industry to develop secure federal network

From: InfoSec News (isnat_private)
Date: Fri Oct 26 2001 - 02:55:20 PDT

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    By Bara Vaida
    National Journal's Technology Daily 
    October 25, 2001 
    President Bush's special adviser on cybersecurity on Wednesday told
    hundreds of information technology specialists that he wants the
    private sector's recommendations on how to build a secure nationwide
    intranet for government agencies and their estimates on its cost.
    Richard Clarke also said the private sector would build the intranet,
    to be called Govnet, and then lease it back to the government in
    exchange for a service fee.
    "We want to build as secure an intranet as possible--one that
    taxpayers can rely on to be 100 percent safe ... a network that is
    separate from the routers connected to the Internet," Clarke told IT
    officials gathered at the Commerce Department.
    He said there has been a 66 percent increase in virus attacks on
    computer networks in the past year. He added that computer viruses are
    becoming smarter and mutating, raising the possibility of a
    "devastating cyber attack" on government computer systems.
    "Our enemies are smart, and they know how to use our technology
    against us," he said.
    Two weeks ago, at the direction of Clarke, the General Services
    Administration posted a request for information seeking private-sector
    ideas on the possibility of building a special network for key
    government functions. Clarke said he had been working on the idea for
    about a year and first briefed Bush about a private government network
    in May. He said Bush expressed interest but wanted to know the cost.
    "We have had a variety of tech people ask us, 'What can we do to
    help?'" he said. "It is in that spirit that we ask you to build an
    intranet ... and to tell us how much it will cost."
    Clarke underscored that Govnet would not replace government agencies'
    use of the Internet to provide public information but rather would be
    used for critical agency information only. Each agency would pay a
    service fee to connect to Govnet, and each agency would decide what it
    considers critical and top-secret information.
    No agency could connect to the Govnet unless it had demonstrated a
    level of computer security to ensure that no intruders could access
    Govnet. Clarke noted that no government agency has that level of
    computer security now.
    Private-sector recommendations on Govnet are due Nov. 21, and GSA
    expects to post an analysis of the recommendations and an idea for
    moving forward by the end of January. If the administration agrees to
    ask high-tech companies to build Govnet, officials estimate that it
    would take about a year-and-a-half to launch the network.
    Several news reports over the past week have quoted security experts
    as criticizing the Govnet idea, charging that no computer network can
    be completely insulated from attack.
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