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Obama launches cyberspace security plan


Washington : US President Barack Obama Friday declared the country’s digital infrastructure a “strategic national asset” whose protection needs to be overseen from within the White House.

Referring to a series of brazen crimes ranging from attacks on thousands of US military computers to the theft of an estimated $1 trillion in intellectual property, Obama announced the creation of a new position for a cyber-security czar who would

coordinate a disparate government bureaucracy.

The cyber czar would have regular access to the president, Obama said.

“America’s economic prosperity in the 21st century will depend on cyber security,” he said.

Seeking to quell worries that such high profile involvement might invade the privacy of users, Obama said the White House would not “dictate security standards for private companies” or monitor private-sector networks or internet traffic.

“We will preserve and protect the personal privacy and civil liberties that we cherish as Americans,” he said.

Obama did not refer to plans by the Pentagon to create a new military command for cyberspace, which were reported Friday by The New York Times. The Times reported that the US military already has a growing number of computer weapons in its arsenal for which it was developing strategies, and was to present Obama with a plan in the

near future.

Obama said the new director of cyber security would close gaps that now exist between government agencies in ensuring internet security. “Federal agencies … don’t coordinate and communicate nearly as well as they should with each other or with the private sector,” he said.

He said the response to Conficker, the virus that has infected millions of computers worldwide in recent months, was “disorganized”.

The White House released a 40-page report by a special team, which spent the last months reviewing the status of security of all high-tech communications – from the internet to wireless technology to air-traffic control – which affect how Americans do business and obtain their water and electricity.

Obama noted how easy it had been for hackers to gain access to his own election campaign e-mails.

“It’s the great irony of our information age,” he said. “The very technologies that empower us to create and to build also empower those who would disrupt and destroy.”