President-elect Barack Obama should create a new White House office to protect cyberspace from hackers, thieves and foreign agents, coordinating security efforts across U.S. military, intelligence and civilian agencies, according to a new report from a panel of leading government and industry experts.
The report, expected to be made public Monday on Capitol Hill, also urges Obama’s new administration and Congress to pass new laws to allow for speedier investigations — and in some cases quicker retaliation once intruders are identified. It proposed online “data warrants,” for example, rather than traditional search warrants, which it said “may be increasingly impracticable in the online environment.”
Chances are good Obama will be receptive to many of the proposals: At least five members of the panel that produced the report also are working for his presidential transition team. They include former White House official Paul Kurtz, advising Obama on national security matters, and Obama technology advisers Dan Chenok and Bruce McConnell.
“Responding to a cyber attack is a tough issue,” said James Lewis of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington-based think-tank that organized the commission. “Do operators respond with law enforcement, espionage or military actions? The guidelines are really unclear. The rules designed in the 1980s are slow, and the Internet is fast.”