NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


April 9, 2009

In the past few years, the defense secretary's email has been hacked, the State Department lost terabytes of information and both Homeland Security and NASA suffered serious foreign cyber attacks.  But the most pressing threat is economic: foreign competitors are stealing billions of dollars' worth of U.S. military technology and intellectual property. 

In response, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) analyzed the current state of cybersecurity and constructed a multitude of recommendations that the next administration can implement quickly to make a noticeable improvement in the nation's cybersecurity as well as formulate longer-term recommendations that are critical to the nation's future cyber objectives: 

  • The president should state as a fundamental principle that cyberspace is a vital asset for the United States and we will protect it in order to ensure national security, public safety, economic prosperity and the delivery of critical services to the American public.
  • He should also appoint an assistant for cyberspace and establish a Cybersecurity Directorate that absorbs existing Homeland Security Council functions.
  • The government should rebuild the public-private partnership on cybersecurity to focus on key infrastructures and coordinate preventive and responsive activities.
  • The government should regulate for cybersecurity and secure industrial control systems.
  • The president should develop and implement security guideline for the procurement of IT products and should take steps to increase the use of secure Internet protocols.

The government should also work to manage identities, modernize authorities, revise the Federal Information Security Management Act and, among other things, end the division between civilian and National Security Systems.

Source: Editorial, "Ghosts in the Machine," The Atlantic, March 2009; based upon: James Andrew Lewis, "Securing Cyberspace for the 44th Presidency," Center for Strategic and International Studies, December 8, 2008.

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