Capital Roundup

Cybersecurity Plan Sparks Skepticism<@VM>FCC Eyes Broadband Proposal

President Clinton

When they return to work this week, members of Congress will review President Clinton's request for $2.03 billion dollars to fund a cybersecurity plan announced earlier this month. Some lawmakers have already expressed skepticism about the plan, however.

The White House's so-called national plan for information systems protection, released Jan. 7, announced new budget proposals for initiatives to strengthen the nation's defenses against emerging threats posed to its critical infrastructure, computer systems and networks.

Among the initiatives are the funding of seven public key infrastructure pilot programs in fiscal 2001 at different federal agencies; funding for development of a "burglar alarm" system that alerts the federal government to cyberattacks, provides recommended defenses and establishes information security readiness levels and ensures the rapid implementation of system patches for known software defects.

In addition, the Clinton plan provides funding for a Federal Cyber Services Training and Education initiative led by the Office of Personnel Management and the National Science Foundation that covers two programs. The first is a program where the government would pay for an IT education (bachelor's or master's level) in exchange for federal service; the second is a program to establish competencies and to certify the existing IT work force.

House Commerce Committee Chairman Tom Bliley, R-Va., said Clinton's proposal fails to address some immediate problems and "does little to protect federal agency computer systems," leaving them vulnerable to hackers.

Sen. Fred Thompson, R-Tenn., chairman of the Governmental Affairs Committee, said he, too, has some concerns. While Clinton's plan accurately highlights some key concerns, "proposals dealing with training security personnel, research and development funding and the Federal Intrusion Detection network will need to be studied further," he said.

Edward Black

The Federal Communications Commission will be reviewing a new proposal by a group called the Coalition for Affordable Local and Long Distance Services that promotes incentives for the financing and construction of networks capable of delivering greater interactivity, more robust video and audio services and faster transmission rates.

The proposal, supported by the Computer and Communications Industry Association, would hasten the deployment of broadband services.

"CCIA and FCC both share the goal of rapid deployment and expansion of broadband services," said CCIA President Edward Black.

"A positive aspect of this proposal assures stability for the industry resulting in the wise investment in Internet backbone expansion.

This expansion creates a greater reliance on fiber-optic cable, and the delivery of broadband services to the home and office."

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