Wanted: Computer Hackers to Help the US Government

250°
260w ago - Federal authorities aren't looking to prosecute them, but to pay them to secure the nation's networks.

To quote: General Dynamics Information Technology put out an ad last month on behalf of the Homeland Security Department seeking someone who could "think like the bad guy."

Applicants, it said, must understand hackers' tactics and be able to analyze Internet traffic and identify vulnerabilities in the federal systems.

In the Pentagon's budget request submitted last week, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the Pentagon will increase the number of cyberexperts it can train each year from 80 to 250 by 2011.

With warnings that the U.S. is ill-prepared for a cyberattack, the White House conducted a 60-day study of how it can better manage and use technology to protect everything from the electrical grid and stock markets to tax data, airline flight systems, and nuclear launch codes.

President Barack Obama appointed a former Bush administration aide, Melissa Hathaway, to head the effort, and her report was delivered Friday, the White House said.

While the country had detailed plans for floods, fires or errant planes drifting into protected airspace, there is no similar response etched out for a major computer attack.

David...
 

Australia's Web Blacklist Leaked, Government Blocked Businesses

200°
265w ago - The secretive Internet filter blacklist held by the communications watchdog ACMA has been leaked, revealing the government has understated the amount of banned Web pages by more than 1000.

Multiple legitimate businesses and Web sites have been banned including two bus companies, online poker sites, multiple Wikipedia entries, Google and Yahoo group pages, a dental surgery and a tour operator.

Betfair CEO Andrew Twaits was furious the government has potentially annexed tens of millions of dollars in revenue after its Betfair.com gambling site was blacklisted.

The blacklists were reportedly leaked by a Web filter operator to wikileaks which has published the full list of banned URLs.

Outraged privacy advocates say the government has effectively lied about the amount of URLs included in the blacklists, totalling more than 2300, and the type of content which it would ban.

Electronic Frontiers Association (EFA) spokesman Geordie Guy said the list, dated August last year, would now be far more extensive in both the amount of URLs banned and the type of content included.

"The list is quite a bit bigger than what we have been led to believe; we were told it contained about 1600 pages in its current incarnation, and ACMA reports have claimed as low...
 

Cyber risk equals 9/11 impact

50°
314w ago - The US homeland security chief has made a heartfelt plea to Silicon Valley workers to stand up and be counted in the fight to secure the cyber highway.

Michael Chertoff invoked the attacks of 9/11 as he sought to galvanise IT professionals and security experts.

He told the world's biggest IT security conference that serious threats to cyberspace are on "a par this country tragically experienced on 9/11".

Such attacks can hit financial bodies and a government's powers, he said.

"We take threats to the cyber world as seriously as we take threats to the material world," Mr Chertoff added.

'Desire to serve'

Speaking to a packed auditorium at the RSA Conference in San Francisco, Mr Chertoff pointed out that securing the nation's internet highways and byways was a job the federal government could not do alone.

Appealing to the private sector, the homeland security boss reached out and simply said: "Please send some of your brightest and best to do service in the government."

It was, he said, "the best thing you can do for your country".

And, if the crowd was somewhat sceptical about getting into bed with the government on this issue, Mr Chertoff talked of the first big-name Silicon Valley recruit to the cause....
 

Warning on e-government 'risks'

50°
334w ago - Governments need to do more to ensure they preserve trust as they put more services online, says a report.

Emerging from a European Commission project, it warns that technology could lessen the trust governments have instilled in citizens before now.

Officials must move beyond security measures to reassure people about how they are being treated, it said.

The report comes as the UK government tries to reassure Britons after losing data records for 25 million people.

Trust network

The report was written by a research body, bankrolled by the EC's Information and Society Unit, that is looking at "citizen-centric" e-government.

The cc:eGov unit points out that increasingly technology, often in the form of websites, is the means by which citizens encounter local and central government.

Frank Harris, author of the report, wrote: "People learn to trust others through experience, and through judgement based on both direct and referred experience."

The danger, he warned, was that these interfaces did not engender the same feelings of trust that have emerged via more traditional routes.

He added that to engender trust in electronic channels required much more than the basic requirements of security.

Citizens may...
 

Government funds photonics research at Surrey University

50°
334w ago - The University of Surrey is to lead a five year £5m Government funded study into silicon photonics.

"There is renewed interest in silicon photonics because of the microprocessor interconnect bottleneck," programme leader Professor Graham Reed told EW. "If you do it optically, you get a huge bandwidth."

Although far from an ideal optical material, silicon can transmits light at the telecoms wavelengths of 1550 and 1300nm, and its oxide can be used as a cladding to constrain light. On-chip and chip-to-chip communications are targets.

Surrey with its partners will work on silicon optical modulators, detectors, filters and couplers. "What we are not doing is any light sources, partly because there is already enough heat on a microprocessor," said Reed. "We will bring it in through an optical fibre."

Couplers are particularly important, said Reed, because silicon optical modulators use carriers to alter refractive index, and to shift carriers at GHz the modulator has to be sub-micron - smaller than the core of an optical fibre - which is where the couplers come in.

The aim is generally to improve the technology of silicon photonics, and specifically to make a transmitter and a receiver that are compatible with microprocessor CMOS.

The consortium...