by Edited by Elana Varon

Washington Watch: Cybersecurity Strategy

Nov 15, 20024 mins
IT Strategy

Cybersecurity Strategy: A Work in Progress

Richard Clarke didn’t want to create just another one of those reports that Washington churns out as easily as network TV cranks out new reality shows. But in trying to meet the impossible challenge of pleasing politicians, private industry and public users alike, that may be exactly what the president’s cybersecurity adviser has done. A 64-page document released in September, titled “The National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace,” is less a strategy with specific action items than a list of best practices, recommendations and suggestions.

The good news is that it is a draft. In the past year, the White House has sponsored four town hall meetings around the country and published 53 sets of key questions to spark public debate. But Clarke and strategy coauthor Howard Schmidt, vice chair of President Bush’s Critical Infrastructure Protection Board, claim they need even more input before a final strategy is produced.

Jim Dempsey, deputy director with the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Democracy and Technology, a pro-civil liberties lobbying group, believes the strategy might not have sufficient incentives for private industry to act, but he’s not sure where the pressure to be secure should come from. “I think [the government] correctly recognized that they could not take a regulatory approach, but that still leaves open the question of whether we in society have the right mix of incentives for security,” says Dempsey.

If government and private industry are unable to agree on security needs and mandates, the future security of cyberspace is in jeopardy, says RSA Security President and CEO Arthur Coviello. “I was a little disappointed that it was just a draft, but now people can debate it. The government has the opportunity to lead by example, to put their money where their mouth is,” he says.

The White House is planning eight more town hall meetings and is accepting comments until Nov. 18 via e-mail at feed No date has been set for the final release of the guidelines, but as the draft strategy ironically argues, “good intentions and good beginnings are not the measure of success. Rather, the government will require demonstrated performance and results.” For a copy of the cybersecurity strategy, go to www.white

-Julie Hanson

New Rules for Imports Will Save Supply Chain Costs

The government is going to help make your supply chain more efficient. Now stifle that laugh. U.S. Customs regulations proposed in August require data about imports to be reported to the Customs agency 24 hours before the goods are loaded on any ship bound for the United States. That means you and your supply chain partners will have to share more information online. And it will save you money.

Getting shipping manifest data electronically is the best way for shippers, which have to file the manifests with Customs, to get the real-time information they’ll need to comply with the rules. But according to Cindy Stoddard, vice president and CIO of Oakland, Calif.-based logistics company American President Lines (APL), most cargo data still comes in from buyers or their import agents on paper. APL has to key the data into its systems before it sends the information to Customs. Customs uses the manifests to decide which ships get inspected. If the manifest doesn’t show up until the ship does, the shipper?and whoever bought the goods?has to wait until Customs gives the OK to unload. Almost half of the $1.2 trillion worth of goods U.S. companies import annually arrive by ship. Purdue University economist David Hummels finds that a day of delay on the docks for any reason costs the United States nearly 1 percent of the value of the goods being shipped?$8,000 for every $1 million worth.

New homeland security measures demand that Customs screen more cargo for illegal weapons or dangerous chemicals. By getting the manifests before ships leave port, inspectors can identify risky shipments before they arrive. They won’t have to hold up shipments that aren’t suspicious while they check everyone’s documents, said Customs Commissioner Robert Bonner in a speech last summer. At press time, Customs was reviewing comments about the proposed rules, and officials couldn’t predict when they would be finalized.

-Sarah Johnson