[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

[ISN] NIAC Tackles Net Security


By Caron Carlson
April 28, 2003 

As corporate America tries to work more closely with the federal
government to improve network security, a primary goal among CEOs is
avoiding new federal regulations.

However, executives who are directly responsible for network security
do not necessarily share that goal. CIOs and chief security officers
across the country are quietly advocating regulation to spur their
bosses into acting more effectively on network security, according to
Tom Noonan, president and CEO of Internet Security Systems Inc., in

There is a widespread feeling among executives accountable for IT that
security is not receiving the attention it deserves from the helm,
Noonan told top corporate executives gathered for a teleconference of
the National Infrastructure Advisory Council last week.

"I've wanted to head for the hills every time I hear it," Noonan said.

Noonan's disclosure was met with resistance by members of the NIAC,
many of whom already face considerable regulation.

"Another layer of regulation [in the pharmaceutical industry] would
probably just make it more complicated to get things done," said Karen
Katen, president of Pfizer Global Pharmaceuticals and executive vice
president of Pfizer Inc., in New York.

The financial services industry is particularly eager to discourage
Washington from adding new mandates to its lengthy roster of federal
rules. Alfred Berkeley, vice chairman of The Nasdaq Stock Market Inc.,
in New York, and Martin McGuinn, chairman and CEO of Mellon Financial
Corp., in Pittsburgh, voiced opposition to further direct federal

Nonetheless, the NIAC will take a closer look at the potential need
for regulatory guidance, particularly within sectors that are not
necessarily motivated by profit to enhance security, such as the water
and electricity industries, said NIAC Chairman Richard Davidson,
president and CEO of Union Pacific Corp., in Omaha, Neb.

"In some unusual situations, it might take regulation to make this
happen," Davidson said.

The NIAC, made up of chief executives from companies hosting critical
infrastructure, is now administered by the Department of Homeland
Security. Robert Liscouski, who was appointed assistant secretary of
Homeland Security for Infrastructure Protection, in Washington, late
last month, sat in on Tuesday's meeting.

Addressing a concern expressed lately by prominent IT experts,
including Richard Clarke, former cyber-security adviser to the
president, Liscouski said the Information Assurance and Infrastructure
Protection division of the new department "places an especially high
priority on protecting our cyber-infrastructure."

The NIAC is also looking at the thorny issue of network vulnerability
disclosure. Council members' opinions on the topic range from full
disclosure to limited disclosure, but there is a consensus that
guidelines are needed for handling vulnerabilities, said NIAC Vice
Chairman John Chambers, president and CEO of Cisco Systems Inc., in
San Jose, Calif.

"Lacking existing guidelines, people invent solutions," Chambers said,
adding that ad hoc solutions can create new problems. A task force set
up by the council will complete a study of the matter by the end of
June, Chambers said, and the initial assessment is that disclosure can
cause more risks than it eliminates.

The question of how much network threat data a corporation should
share with the government creates an ongoing predicament for many
enterprises. Divergent policies and practices are evident in the
varying degrees of participation within the Information Sharing and
Analysis Centers for each industry, according to members.

ISN is currently hosted by Attrition.org

To unsubscribe email majordomo@xxxxxxxxxxxxx with 'unsubscribe isn'
in the BODY of the mail.