US Government leadership in cyber security lacking

Summary:I see that the US assistant secretary of the national cyber-security division of the Homeland Security Department addressed the New York City Metro InfraGard. His remarks are disturbing to me because the reflect a growing (continuing?

I see that the US assistant secretary of the national cyber-security division of the Homeland Security Department addressed the New York City Metro InfraGard. His remarks are disturbing to me because the reflect a growing (continuing?) cluelessness within the US government on cyber security matters.

A quote from the article:

"You all know our adversaries will stop at nothing to destroy the infrastructures we all work so hard to protect. ... We're all at risk, we're all responsible. and there's much more we have to do to protect our critical systems," Garcia said. "New York is the world's financial nucleus. ... As Wall Street goes, so does the rest of the economy."

Talk about spreading fear uncertainty and doubt (FUD). First off, what "adversaries" is he talking about? Cyber criminals? They certainly do not want to damage our infrastructure. Terrorists? Well if our infrastructure is so vulnerable what has stopped them from attacking it so far? Obviously something has because I do not dispute the vulnerability of our infrastructure.

While on the subject of cyber crime look what the assistant secretary has to say:

Garcia said there is a $100 billion market for cyber crime -- more than the illegal drug market.

I wish I could learn how to harness the power of a meme for marketing purposes. This particular idea, that cyber crime exceeds the drug trade, needs to be killed before it does serious damage. The very least I can do is expose the stupidity behind it. In this way my readers can identify clueless spokespeople whenever they attempt to propagate this idea.

First some history. I have blogged about this before,and here. And most recently when the CEO of McAfee used it. It all started at a security conference in Ryadh of all places. One Ms Valerie McNiven, a one time consultant to the US Treasury Department stated:

“Last year (2004) was the first year that proceeds from cyber-crime were greater than proceeds from the sale of illegal drugs, and that was, I believe, over $105 billion,”

Well, when I dig in to it I find numbers for the global drug trade in excess of $400 billion. Think of it. All of Afghanistan's economy is fueled by the drug trade. Most of Columbia likewise. To give you a sense of perspective the US Drug Enforcement Agency's budget is $42 BILLION. Imagine a Cyber Crime Division of the US with a $42 Billion budget. Is that what Mr. Garcia is angling for?

Yes, cyber crime is a serious problem. But a $100 billion problem? I think not. Yes it is growing rapidly, yes we are vulnerable. But comparing cyber crime to the illegal drug industry is foolish at best, criminally misleading at worst.

Topics: CXO

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