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Source: Excite News

Posted on March 23, 2001

      The U.S. government must work more closely with private companies to prevent cyberterrorist attacks that threaten to disrupt the nation's economy, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice said Thursday.

      "Today, the cyber-economy is the economy," she said, referring to the nation's dependence on computers for virtually every vital service, including electricity, transportation, banking and communications.

      "Corrupt those networks, and you disrupt this nation," she said during a forum on Internet security. "It is a paradox of our times that the very technology that makes our economy so dynamic and our military forces so dominating also makes us more vulnerable."

      Financial losses from cyberattacks reported reached nearly $400 million last year, a 40 percent increase over the year before, according to industry figures.

      America's military strength could be the very reason its enemies turn to unconventional battlefields like cyberspace, Rice said, warning that "the same technology that empowers us empowers America's adversaries."

      To discourage attacks in cyberspace, the nation must take additional steps to increase security, she said, also must be prepared if deterrences fail.

      "A clear willingness to show that you are prepared to confront the problem is what keeps it from happening in the first place," she said.

      Rice stressed that the government cannot protect its critical infrastructure alone and must rely on progress made by the private industry to protect its interests, both domestically and internationally.

      "If the United States is vulnerable in its important leadership role in the world, so are our allies and our many friends around the world," she said.

      Unfortunately, most government agencies don't understand the need to improve their network security "because they don't think it's their mission," said Richard Clarke, the National Security Council adviser who heads counterterrorism efforts.

      Agencies that have increased efforts to improve their security systems do so for one of two reasons, he said. "They've either been attacked badly by someone on the outside, or they've been attacked badly by the Congress."

      Americans need to realize the importance of protecting government computers that hold personal information such as tax, criminal and military records, Clarke said.

      "We have a positive obligation to protect the privacy of those records, and that means we have to have security," he said. "Without security, there is no privacy."

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