Thursday, March 12, 2009

Former FBI chief: NSA can't run cybersecurity alone

(From WASHINGTON--Echoing recent comments from government and industry representatives, a former FBI chief on Thursday said the intelligence community would be the wrong place to put complete responsibility for cybersecurity.

Louis Freeh

Louis Freeh in his FBI days.

(Credit: FBI)

Louis Freeh, who served as FBI director from 1993 to 2001, told audiences at the FOSE 2009 conference here that when the director of the Homeland Security Department's National Cyber Security Center resigned last week, he tapped into a strong historical resistance in the United States to centralized power, particularly in intelligence and military units. In his resignation letter, Rod Beckström said he opposes what he perceives as attempts by the National Security Agency to control DHS cyber efforts.

"The comments (Beckström) made really went to the heart of this centuries-old nationwide dilemma," Freeh said. "It is still the same debate we were having 200 years ago--is the military going to be responsible for this, or do we need to set up an independent civilian entity?"

Cybersecurity responsibility should be left up to a consortium of government and industry players, he said, and the private industry has had too much difficulty maintaining reliable cooperation with the intelligence community. He cited as an example the uncertainty over whether telecommunications firms were to receive immunity for agreeing to unlawfully open their networks to the NSA.

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