Tighter Computer Security urged.(BUSINESS)

Article excerpt

Byline: William Glanz, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The Bush administration's top computer-security chief said companies and consumers must share responsibility with the federal government to protect cyberspace.

"Almost all of us rely on cyberspace. Everyone has to understand how to protect their part of it," said Richard A. Clarke, special adviser to the president for cyberspace security.

In a draft of the 65-page report circulated by the White House yesterday, Mr. Clarke outlines more than 80 proposals that consumers, large companies, industry sectors and the federal government can take to bolster security.

The report recommends home users be more vigilant in updating anti-virus software and large companies articulate security policies and enforce them. It also suggests companies within key sectors of the economy like the banking, transportation, energy and chemical industries force computer vendors to sell more secure technology by leveraging their buying power and purchasing equipment together.

"It's a very pragmatic plan," said Alan Paller, director of research at SANS Institute, a computer-security think tank in Bethesda.

Among the most impressive recommendations, Mr. Paller said, is one forcing each branch of the federal government to test computer systems regularly.

Mr. Clarke, a former Clinton administration official hired last October to shore up the nation's cyberspace security, will release the report today at Stanford University on the one-year anniversary of the costly attack of the worm and virus hybrid called Nimda. That attack infected more than 2.2 million servers and personal computers after starting on Sept. 18, 2001, and caused more than $635 million in damages. …