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Panelists: Information-Sharing to Solve Cyber-Security Woes Still Lacking

in FCC Workshops/National Broadband Plan by

By Mercy Gakii, Reporter-Researcher,

WASHINGTON, September 30, 2009 – Federal Communications Commissioner Meredith Attwell Baker said at the agency’s workshop on September 30 that security is the most important challenge facing the communications sector. "I think it's really important we get this right, because if this is the part we get wrong, all the rest is for naught."

Don Welch, president and CEO of the nonprofit research group Merti Network, told the agency that the internet service providers are lacking the incentives to justify investments in network security are missing. He suggestedthat the federal government provide such incentives by requiring ISPs to disclose information about network breaches.

"If I can say my network is more secure than your network, I'll get some justification for investing in cybersecurity,” he said. “Coming up with that return is really what's going to be hard for private industry.

John Nagengast, executive director for strategic initiatives with AT&T's government solutions division, pointed out that it is nearly impossible to answer the question that amazes every user: “Where did this attack come from?” Global real-time monitoring is the only way to tackle the problem, he said.

An effective information-sharing regime faces the challenge of creating partnerships between the federal government and the private sector.

“It also highlights the challenge of removing the barriers for corporate rivals to share threat data with each other, the presenters said.

"Health organizations seem to have found a way to get past this information-sharing problem," said Richard Perthia, director of the Carnegie Mellon University's Computer Emergency Response Team. She further noted the success of the World Health Organization in monitoring the spread of pandemics such as the H1N1 flu in virtually real-time.

"Whatever those mechanisms are, I think we need to look to those to get past this hump of information sharing, because we're not there yet,” she said.

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An intern at the National Journalism Center, Mercy was a Reporter-Researcher for until November 2009. She was a business reporter on leave from the Daily Nation of Nairobi, Kenya. She has a bachelor’s degree in English and Education from Daystar University in Nairobi.

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