'We're all at risk' of attack, cyber chief says

'We're all at risk' of attack, cyber chief says
'We're all at risk' of attack, cyber chief says 

By Liza Porteus Viana  
Technology Daily  
December 11, 2007  

NEW YORK -- Private industry and governments need to make cyber security 
a priority, no matter what the cost, in order to defeat hackers and 
terrorists and to keep operations running during a crisis, a federal 
official said here Tuesday.

Private industry owns and operates more than 85 percent of the country's 
critical infrastructures. "That means the federal government cannot 
address these cyber threats alone," said Greg Garcia, the Homeland 
Security assistant secretary who heads the national cyber-security 

Garcia addressed the New York City Metro InfraGard Alliance blocks from 
the World Trade Center site attacked by terrorists Sept. 11, 2001. 
InfraGard is a partnership between the FBI, local law enforcement and 
the private sector aimed at protecting critical infrastructures, 
including technology systems.

"You all know our adversaries will stop at nothing to destroy the 
infrastructures we all work so hard to protect. ... We're all at risk, 
we're all responsible. and there's much more we have to do to protect 
our critical systems," Garcia said. "New York is the world's financial 
nucleus. ... As Wall Street goes, so does the rest of the economy."

About $5.5 trillion to $6 trillion runs through the U.S. financial 
system each day, including paycheck delivery and withdrawals from 
automatic teller machines. Still, Garcia said, large household-name 
companies are leaving their networks exposed to infiltration and data 

The federal government relies heavily on organizations like InfraGard 
and information-sharing and analysis centers for specific economic 
sectors to force industry to take cyber precautions. He said that 
partnership is particularly important given that hackers are becoming 
more sophisticated, and that malicious codes and software are now sold 
cheaply over the Internet.

Garcia said there is a $100 billion market for cyber crime -- more than 
the illegal drug market. From fiscal 2006 to fiscal 2007, the U.S. 
Computer Emergency Readiness Team handled more than 37,000 incidents, 
compared with about 24,000 in fiscal 2006.

"Unfortunately, none of this is going to dissipate if we don't have the 
same level of coordination and organization our adversaries have against 
us," Garcia said.

On the government side, the Homeland Security Department's Einstein 
network monitors systems for abnormalities or intrusions and circulates 
threat information within hours. Einstein is used by 13 agencies, but 
Garcia wants all to subscribe.

"There's strength in numbers," the assistant secretary said. "Just like 
beat cops, out-of-the-ordinary events or activities can tip off cyber 
responders to potential trouble."

Industry also needs to consider physical threats that could affect 
networks, such as a pandemic flu outbreak, Garcia said. Companies must 
ensure that their businesses can operate via telecommuting during a 
crisis and that their networks don't become bottlenecked, he said. They 
should boost network security ahead of time to ensure continuity of 

If the businesses don't do this, Garcia said, "our economy -- in fact, 
our very way of life -- is going to be at stake."

Garcia toured the city's wireless network operations and emergency 
management centers, and spoke with city leaders about how they are 
managing and securing communications systems designed to operate across 

In March, the department will conduct an exercise to practice 
coordinated responses to simulated strings of cyber attacks affecting 
all levels of government and industry.

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