[ISN] 167 Firms Offer Security Help to GSA

From: InfoSec News (isnat_private)
Date: Wed Nov 28 2001 - 23:58:28 PST

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    By Ellen McCarthy,
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Wednesday, November 28, 2001; 8:54 PM
    The White House's request for suggestions from the technology industry
    on how to make internal government communication networks more secure
    provoked an outpouring of responses in the past two months.
    One hundred sixty-seven telecom, information technology and software
    companies responded to the General Services Administration's inquiry
    about whether it would be possible and practical to build secure
    internal networks for government agencies.
    Research into the question began six months ago and escalated after a
    proposal by the president's cyberspace security adviser, Richard
    Clarke, after the Sept. 11 attacks. The results are now being analyzed
    for a report to be delivered to the White House in February.
    The GSA asked for technical assessments, costs, estimated schedules
    and design ideas for highly secure voice and data networks that do not
    rely on the Internet.
    Much of the communication between agency offices would still be done
    through the Internet, said a White House spokesman. The internal
    system, called GovNet, would be used to transfer sensitive documents
    on separate, government-owned fiber-optic cables or an alternate
    communication system that would be less susceptible to attacks.
    Clarke said in a statement that as virus "attacks become more common
    and sophisticated, prudent risk management requires that we look at
    all the alternatives."
    "Encryption is not enough. I am also concerned with minimizing service
    outages caused by [virus] attacks."
    WorldCom Inc., one of the companies that submitted proposals for the
    project, suggested several systems that range in price and security
    "We feel there are a number of ways to address this problem," said
    WorldCom spokeswoman Natasha Haubold. "So our proposal included
    everything from a completely separate network to one [that] shares
    some network infrastructure, but would have enhanced security
    Representatives from 16 government agencies will review the industry
    suggestions and file a report to the security adviser and the White
    House. The Software Engineering Institute of Carnegie Mellon
    University, a clearinghouse for reports about viruses and other
    security problems on the Internet, also will review the submissions
    and submit an independent report.
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