[ISN] Lawmakers propose volunteer corps to guard nation's technology

From: InfoSec News (isnat_private)
Date: Mon Jul 22 2002 - 00:44:07 PDT

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    By CHARLES HOSKINSON, Agence France-Presse 
    WASHINGTON (July 21, 2002 2:49 p.m. EDT) - U.S. lawmakers want to
    enlist scientists and technology experts into a volunteer defense
    corps similar to the military's National Guard to protect the nation's
    communications systems from terrorists.
    The U.S. Senate on Friday approved legislation to create the National
    Emergency Technology Guard, teams of experts available to prevent and
    respond to terror attacks on the nation's communications
    The bill, known as the Science and Technology Emergency Mobilization
    Act, also establishes a government agency to coordinate the sharing of
    security technology and authorizes 35 million dollars in grants to
    create emergency communications programs.
    The bill also provides for the creation of a "virtual technology
    reserve" of privately-owned equipment that can be loaned to
    authorities in an emergency.
    "This legislation takes us another step closer to the vital
    technological improvements that are necessary to upgrade the security
    in our state, local and federal services, and it taps the reservoir of
    goodwill among the American people to provide solutions," said
    Republican Senator George Allen of Virginia, who co-sponsored the bill
    with Democrat Ron Wyden of Oregon.
    The House of Representatives has approved a similar plan as part of a
    homeland security package, and now the two legislative bodies must
    agree on a common approach before sending the bill to President George
    W. Bush for final approval.
    U.S. officials have expressed concern about possible terror attacks
    against the nation's information infrastructure by militants linked to
    those responsible for September 11 suicide attacks that killed some
    3,000 people.
    Federal Bureau of Investigation agents have reportedly found evidence
    that the al-Qaida militant group - blamed for the September 11 attacks
    - has searched the Internet for ways to control digital switches for
    power, water, transport and communications systems.
    Earlier this month, the security firm Riptech reported that the number
    of Internet attacks so far this year was up 64 percent from a year
    ago, with some of the incidents showing "very advanced hackers."
    The study detected potential cyberterrorism activity from countries
    where conventional terrorists are known to be harbored or recruited,
    including Iran, Pakistan, Egypt, Kuwait, and Indonesia, the study
    But it noted that 80 percent of all attacks originated from only 10
    countries: the United States, Germany, South Korea, China, France,
    Canada, Italy, Taiwan, Britain and Japan.
    In a November report, the FBI's National Infrastructure Protection
    Center said cyber protests from friendly nations and misdirected
    attacks from pro-U.S. hackers also threatened communications systems.
    During hearings on the Senate bill in April, one information security
    expert warned lawmakers of the risk of troublemakers infiltrating the
    volunteer "technology guard."
    "If we don't verify both the technical credibility and the personal
    background of individuals, we risk doing more harm than good," said
    Lance Hoffman, a computer science professor at George Washington
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