Homeland watch | In brief

First concern: 'Essential systems'

Instead of hardening all critical infrastructure, focus should be on ensuring continuity of essential systems, advises a recent report by former White House cyber czar Richard Clarke and the Century Foundation.

An asset is an essential system if its interruption would have a significant negative effect on the economy. Many experts view the Internet in this fashion.

Although such systems may be impossible to protect fully from attack, it may be more productive to create redundancies, relocate assets and develop rapid response and recovery capabilities, the report said.

Palm-reading coming soon

Fujitsu Ltd.'s marketing team is making a big push to introduce its PalmSecure palm-vein authentication system in the United States. The scanners use an infrared camera to capture an image of the unique pattern of veins in one's palm. The image is converted into a digital template for matching in an identify verification system.

Fujitsu is touting palm-vein biometrics as reliable, accurate, forgery-proof, hygienic and less invasive than fingerprints and iris scans. One drawback: With their larger image files, palm scans take slightly longer to match than do fingerprints.

Nip-and-tuck to NIPP

The final National Infrastructure Protection Plan, expected to be released shortly, appears to continue a split responsibility for the transportation sector.

The Coast Guard and the Transportation Security Administration are the government agencies listed for the transportation sector, according to a circulating copy of the final NIPP. However, a footnote adds that the Homeland Security and Transportation departments will collaborate for the sector.

Also, the IT and telecommunications sectors are assigned to DHS' Office of Cyber Security and Telecommunications, with no mention of a specific role for the Federal Communications Commission.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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