Panel Urges Obama to Consider Hacker-Response Plan

WASHINGTON (AP) - President-elect Barack Obama should create a
new White House office to protect cyberspace from hackers, thieves
and foreign agents, coordinating security efforts across U.S.
military, intelligence and civilian agencies, according to a new
report from a panel of leading government and industry experts.
The report, expected to be made public Monday on Capitol Hill,
also urges Obama's new administration and Congress to pass new laws
to allow for speedier investigations - and in some cases quicker
retaliation once intruders are identified. It proposed online
"data warrants," for example, rather than traditional search
warrants, which it said "may be increasingly impracticable in the
online environment."
Chances are good Obama will be receptive to many of the
proposals: At least five members of the panel that produced the
report also are working for his presidential transition team. They
include former White House official Paul Kurtz, advising Obama on
national security matters, and Obama technology advisers Dan Chenok
and Bruce McConnell.
"Responding to a cyber attack is a tough issue," said James
Lewis of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a
Washington-based think-tank that organized the commission. "Do
operators respond with law enforcement, espionage or military
actions? The guidelines are really unclear. The rules designed in
the 1980s are slow, and the Internet is fast."
The proposals by the Commission on Cybersecurity for the 44th
Presidency were being delivered to Capitol Hill during a period of
increasing exasperation within the U.S. government over
embarrassing computer break-ins at the Pentagon, White House, State
Department, Commerce Department and elsewhere that have been traced
in recent years across foreign borders, notably to Russia and
The report urges the Obama administration to make clear to
America's enemies and allies how it will respond when it detects
and traces such attacks, depending on whether break-ins are blamed
on hackers, criminals or foreign governments. U.S. options could
include trade or financial sanctions or military attacks.
"We have to have a solid cyber doctrine," said Jerry Dixon,
former deputy director for the U.S. National Cyber Security
Division at the Homeland Security Department. "When does a cyber
attack rise to the occasion of requiring military action? Or maybe
it's something that law enforcement or the intelligence community
can deal with?"
It was unclear how the commission's new recommendations will
compare with the Bush administration's proposals because President
Bush chose to classify as secret most provisions of his cyber
initiative, which was launched late in his second term. Bush's
plans have included reducing the number of the government's
Internet junctions to minimize the number of targets for attackers
and monitoring federal Internet traffic more aggressively under a
surveillance program it calls "Einstein."
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