by Stephanie Viscasillas

GovNetNot: Safeguarding Electronic Data

Feb 15, 20022 mins

Growing concern over government information getting into the wrong hands has prompted lawmakers to consider how to safeguard electronic data. Richard Clarke, who was made head of federal cybersecurity last October, has proposed a secure government voice and data network called GovNet. This network would be independent and therefore impervious to hackers and the denial-of-service attacks that have debilitated government networks in the past.

GovNet would keep critical information on servers separate from the Internet and therefore secure from the vulnerabilities inherent in public sites. Private companies, which would ultimately bid for the contract if the idea goes forth, responded to the government’s request for information on the topic through October and November. Most thought it was a good idea but difficult if not impossible to put into practice.

Designing a secure and reliable infrastructure wouldn’t be the sticking point, according to Amit Yoran, CEO of security services company Riptech in Alexandria, Va., and former information security program director at the Defense Department. The problem would be monitoring.

Maintaining a private network as secure as that which the government envisions would involve serious effort to ensure that nobody accidentally plugged a PC with Internet access into GovNet, allowing the information to flow through the public outlet they’ve been trying to avoid, Yoran says. Officials hope to have analysis and a development time line done by this month.