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March 11, 2009

The battle over cybersecurity

Posted: 11:59 AM ET

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/03/10/beckstrom.jpg caption="Rod Beckstrom, head of the NCSC, resigned last week."]

There's a bureaucratic wrestling match going on over which piece of the federal government will get to handle cybersecurity.

Here's the gist, gleaned from Wired and Forbes' coverage: On one side of the ring, there's the National Security Agency, which is known for its extreme secrecy and its program to wiretap phone conversations of Americans.

On the other, there's the Department of Homeland Security, which now manages computer security. The head of the department's computer security branch resigned last week, complaining that the NSA is trying to steal control of the program.

In his resignation letter to the Department of Homeland Security and in an interview with Forbes on Monday, Rod Beckstrom said consolidating the cybersecurity program under the NSA would put too much power in one agency's hands. Privacy groups are concerned about the NSA taking over the program because of how it handled secret wiretaps of phone conversations.

But the idea does have support. Director of National Intelligence Admiral Dennis Blair told Congress that the NSA should be in charge rather than Homeland Security.

Cybersecurity is a huge issue - especially since technology is often outpacing our ability to understand all of the implications. Many people want to see a solution that improves security without chilling innovation and openness on the Internet - or infringing on privacy. Others see most any attempt at increased security to be needed.

This post is just a primer, so please weigh in on this issue in the comments. How far should government go to make our computers secure? And which agency should handle that?

Also, check out these cybersecurity tips from Homeland Security.

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Filed under: Internet • Security


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