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US cybersecurity plan comes under fire

A panel of experts yesterday delivered a report to the US president calling the government's incessant focus on public/private partnerships to improve cybersecurity an inadequate solution to the task.

The congressionally appointed Advisory Panel to Assess Domestic Response Capabilities for Terrorism Involving Weapons of Mass Destruction,called the Draft National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace "a small step" in the right direction.

"The draft strategy poses what we view as voluntary, tactical responses to an inherently strategic problem of national importance," the report stated.

The report also faulted the Bush plan because it "relies on private sector willingness to take certain security measures and bear their costs, and chooses not to use government's power to legislate, regulate or otherwise require certain actions."

The commission specifically faulted the government for relying too heavily on persuasion to get the private sector to act.

"As a result, there has been no change in the significant market disincentives to the adoption of cybersecurity measures necessary for ensuring the viability of critical functions performed by the information infrastructure that directly contribute to national needs," such as national security and public health, the report stated.

One of the major stumbling blocks to significant improvements in cybersecurity so far has been the tendency to view cybersecurity as separate from the physical aspects of critical infrastructure protection, rather than as a whole, according to the commission, which also criticised the US government for failing to make leaders responsible for cybersecurity lapses.

"The federal government does not hold its leaders and managers responsible for cybersecurity," the report said.

"There are essentially little or no consequences for federal government agencies and officials who do not take prudent steps to improve cybersecurity."

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