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13 March 2009, 14:50

Former FBI Director calls for decentralisation of cybersecurity responsibilities

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Louis Freeh, formerly director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), says last week's resignation of Rod Beckström from his post as director of the US Homeland Security's National Cybersecurity Center is symptomatic of a fundamental problem in the USA. In his keynote speech at the Federal Office Systems Exposition (FOSE) in Washington DC, he confirmed Beckströms impression that the NSA is grabbing too much power. Media reports say Freeh is calling for closer cooperation between government authorities and private companies.

Freeh said there are many cybersecurity experts in the FBI (of which Freeh was director from 1993 to 2001) and also in the NSA, but for better efficiency these institutions should serve rather as interfaces. He still sees some problems with cooperation between government authorities and private companies, quoting as one example the uncertainty of telecommunications companies about their responsibility for monitoring traffic on behalf of the NSA. He thinks the problems of security on civilian, military and intelligence networks are also too complex for a state organisation to resolve.

Beckström resigned last week, just a year after his appointment as director of the National Cyber Security Center (NCSC), citing as one reason the NSA's grabbing too many powers, within the domain of cybersecurity, that should rightly be the responsibility of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). This, he warned, endangered the democratic process. He further complained that his area of responsibility had not been adequately financed.


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