March 17, 2004

U.S. info-sharing program draws fire

Bruce Schneier's cryptogram pointed at the controversial new program that encourages US companies to share their vulnerability information with the Department of Homeland Defense.

It's a bit long to post, but it's well worth reading if one is interested in public & critical infrastructure protection. The bottom line: the new legal protection will probably cause more trouble than its worth, and may make things more insecure:

U.S. info-sharing program draws fire

By Kevin Poulsen, SecurityFocus Feb 20 2004 6:08PM

A long-anticipated program meant to encourage companies to provide the federal government with confidential information about vulnerabilities in critical systems took effect Friday, but critics worry that it may do more harm than good.

The so-called Protected Critical Infrastructure Information (PCII) program allows corporations who run key elements of U.S. infrastructure -- energy firms, telecommunications carriers, financial institutions, etc. -- to submit details about their physical and cyber vulnerabilities to a newly-formed office within the Department of Homeland Security, with legally-binding assurances that the information will not be used against them or released to the public.

The program implements controversial legislation that bounced around Capitol Hill for years before Congress passed it in the wake of the September 11 attacks as part of the Homeland Security Act of 2002. Security agencies have long sought information about vulnerabilities and likely attack points in critical infrastructures, but have found the private sector reluctant to share, for fear that sensitive or embarrassing information would be released through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

As of Friday, federal law now protects that vulnerability information from disclosure through FOIA, and makes it illegal for government workers to leak it, provided companies follow certain procedures and submit the data to the new PCII office.

Posted by iang at March 17, 2004 11:43 AM | TrackBack