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DHS to Combine Private and Government Forces to Mitigate Online Attacks

The Armed Forces Communications and Electronic Association's Homeland Security recently organized a conference that reported that incidents of cyber security were growing in U.S. and throughout the world. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security aims to improve in tackling the problem in cooperation with private sector security specialists.

The DHS plans to combine the efforts of private sector experts from the communications and IT industries with government employees at the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT), said Gregory Garcia, assistant secretary of cyber security and telecommunications at DHS. Garcia was speaking at the conference held during the first week of March 2007. The groups will jointly work to enhance the power and functioning of US-CERT's information hub for cyber safety, Garcia said. Although the agency did not outline the program's starting data, it said they would begin in the very near future.

The National Police Agency (NPA) filed another report emphasizing the growth of Internet-based crime involving password theft. Users must therefore take preventive steps such as not giving out their passwords or other personal details to sites they suspect. Since 2000 cyber crimes have been escalating every year from 913 reported incidents, said the NPA.

In 2006, US-CERT received reports of 23,000 cases including 75% in the private sector. The DHS runs the four-year old US-CERT with the combined efforts of the public and private sectors to safeguard the Internet infrastructure of the country. The DHS defines an incident as an attempt for unauthorized access to a system, a denial of service attack or any other disruption on the Internet.

In the views of Karl Brondell, a strategic consultant at State Farm Insurance, the private business sector and government weren't really equipped to handle any significant cyber attack. He illustrated his point with a Business Roundtable report that found lapses in private sector Internet security. Business Roundtable is an association of CEOs from large enterprises in Washington.

Garcia and other speakers at the conference agreed on the urgent need to improve the said cooperation and overall IT security, in the light of ever increasing sophistication in their adversaries' capabilities.

Related article: Dixie College Suffers Data Hack

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