Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

January 15, 2008

DNI McConnell Sheds Light on Cyber Strategy in Interview with New Yorker

Filed under: Cybersecurity,Privacy and Security,Strategy — by Jonah Czerwinski on January 15, 2008

Additional public information about the developing cybersecurity policy can be found in an interview with DNI McConnell in the Jan 21, 2008, issue of The New Yorker. In it, interviewer Lawrence Wright describes McConnell’s path to prioritizing cybersecurity, the scale of the challenge to secure both government and private networks, and some of the unique characteristics of the plan that invoke privacy concerns. As noted in yesterday’s post, the President requested $436 million to fund cybersecurity initiatives likely to be driven by this strategy.

• In May 2007, at a meeting with the President and several cabinet members, McConnell asked for authority to wage information warfare against the tech savvy insurgents in Iraq. McConnell identified computer-network defense as an area in which the U.S. was under-invested. The President then charged McConnell to craft a security strategy, not only for government systems but also for American industry and private individuals.

• McConnell’s Cybersecurity Policy, which is still in draft, recommends reducing the access points between government computers and the Internet from two thousand to fifty.

• McConnell expresses concern about private sector defense. “The real question is what to do about industry,” McConnell is quoted as saying. He continues, “Ninety-five per cent of this is a private-sector problem.”

• McConnell suggests that the “real problem is the [cyber crime] perpetrator who doesn’t care about stealing [money] —he just wants to destroy.”

• Privacy protections are considered to be in conflict with enhanced security. A contributor to the strategy and long-time collaborator with McConnell says that the government needs the authority to examine the content of any e-mail, file transfer, or Web search.  Citing a maxim among the info-sec community, he concluded that “Privacy and security are a zero-sum game.”

• Aware of the difficulties in obtaining new powers for security measures, McConnell says that “FISA reform will be a walk in the park compared to this….”

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Pingback by Dni mcconnell sheds light on cyber strategy in interview with new - DNI McConnell Sheds Light on Cyber Strategy in Interview with New ...

January 15, 2008 @ 9:06 am

[…] issue of The New Yorker. In it, interviewer Lawrence Wright describes McConnell’s path to … (more…) Homeland Security Watch … intent, and scope of the new strategy document … gathering […]

Comment by William R. Cumming

January 16, 2008 @ 1:19 pm

While the private sector may hold the predominant share of cyber assets, only the federal government investment seems to drive development. Shouldn’t federal R&D for IT and cyber be linked to a security mandate?

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