Richard A. Clarke, the special adviser to the president for cybersecurity from 2001 to 2003, has an important op-ed in the NY Times today.
Clarke basically laments the state of US cyber security (who uses this “cyber” word besides the US govt.?) in regards to the incessant hacking of US businesses by Chinese hackers. Clarke believes that giving the Department of Homeland Security the ability to:
“inspect what enters and exits the United States in cyberspace.
And under the Intelligence Act, the president could issue a finding that would authorize agencies to scan Internet traffic outside the United States and seize sensitive files stolen from within our borders. “
If this proposal is not basically an identical copy of what the Chinese government has set up in with their Great Firewall of China, I don’t know what it is.
US businesses need to take responsibility for securing their own servers, documents and networks. That they have not done so to date is their own fault.
The proposal to give the US government the right/ability to scan/filter the Internet is not only like trying to filter the entire ocean to catch a few fish (i.e. the wrong way to do it), it’s also asking the government to provide Internet security for US commercial businesses (which they should do on their own, not on the US taxpayer’s dime.)
A future that Richard Clarke wants for the US is a mirror image of what China has created today with the Internet in China. That he does not see the irony in this vision is probably the most troubling aspect of his op-ed as well as his “special adviser to the president for cybersecurity” role.
The US government needs experts who understand the Internet in roles like these, not people like Clarke, who clearly do not understand how the Internet works. And US businesses need to take their network security seriously. Focus on securing your networks, not just next quarter’s profit margins, and you’ll see less successful hacking.