[ISN] Homeland defense shifts focus to secure nets

From: InfoSec News (isnat_private)
Date: Mon Jun 17 2002 - 02:11:03 PDT

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    By George Leopold
    EE Times
    June 14, 2002 (12:09 p.m. EST)  
    WASHINGTON - U.S. homeland-defense officials are moving increased
    security for the nation's information networks to the forefront as
    they struggle to prevent new terror attacks.
    With President George W. Bush's proposal to create a Department of
    Homeland Defense, cybersecurity has been thrust to the top of the
    post-9/11 agenda. Planners said a future attack would most likely be
    different from last September's, with information, financial and
    transportation networks thought to be at the top of the target list.
    "The infrastructure is the target," Paul Kurtz, senior director for
    national security at the White House Office of Cyberspace Security,
    told a conference here Thursday (June 13). "The worst-case scenario
    can happen."
    Kurtz urged industry executives meeting here to "think about a
    coordinated attack against the physical infrastructure, the
    information infrastructure."
    The Bush administration moved to codify cybersecurity procedures after
    9/11 through an executive order last October designed to secure U.S.  
    information networks. The order was being prepared before the 9/11
    attacks, Kurtz said. The goal of the plan is to ensure that network
    disruptions are infrequent, short and manageable.
    "We're busy now trying to plug the holes" in existing
    telecommunications networks, Kurtz said, including "backup dial
    tones." Verizon, the primary carrier on the East Coast, lost its dial
    tone in the New York area after the World Trade Center was struck by
    hijacked aircraft last September.
    A national strategy for improving network security and reliability
    also includes building security into future networks and hardening the
    Internet through more-secure network protocols.
    Research labs mobilized
    The government is also trying to mobilize federal research labs to
    work on cybersecurity solutions not being developed by industry while
    cutting down on redundant research projects, Kurtz said.
    The proposed homeland security agency, something the Bush
    administration opposed until its June 6 announcement, would attempt to
    harness the specific skills of different agencies while breaking up
    bureaucratic logjams that prevent quick action. Kurtz called the Bush
    proposal a "force multiplier," adding that "most of this is up for
    discussion right now." That's a reference to intense negotiations
    between the White House and Congress on the structure and authority of
    the proposed agency, which would not include the embattled FBI or CIA.
    Industry executives at the conference embraced the idea of
    government-industry partnerships to boost security on the Internet,
    but some cautioned that the homeland defense proposal could tackle
    problems where there are none. "Let's not break what's not broken" as
    efforts are made to improve network security, said Arthur Deacon, AT&T
    vice president for network operations and service assurance.
    The AT&T executive said cybersecurity on packet-switched networks is
    "all about topology, not technology."
    Proposals are also emerging to use higher-capacity wireless
    technologies for public-safety applications when land lines are
    knocked out. One would combine mobile radio networks on land with
    mobile Internet Protocol (IP) technology to potentially offer
    3-Mbit/second capacity.
    OFDM tapped
    The proposed wireless network for homeland defense is based on a
    technology called flash-OFDM (orthogonal frequency-division
    multiplex). Variations of the technology are used in Europe.
    Northrop Grumman, a chief proponent of the technology, has
    demonstrated flash-OFDM with a technology partner, Flarion
    Technologies Inc. (Bedminster, N.J.), and has lined up Cisco Systems
    Inc. as a strategic partner.
    The IP-based system requires 10 MHz of spectrum to support as many as
    5 million simultaneous users, said Royce Kincaid, program manager for
    homeland defense at Northrop Grumman. The company is targeting the 24
    MHz of spectrum in the 700-MHz band set aside by the Federal
    Communications Commission for public-safety applications.
    Kincaid said that government officials have urged the companies to
    promote the technology, and the partners are meeting with regulators
    shortly to discuss the possible allocation of spectrum for the
    high-speed wireless network.
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