Former White House cyber-security czar Richard Clarke ripped his former employer Tuesday, saying that the government is doing an unacceptable job of helping the private sector lock down the nations critical infrastructure.
Speaking at a press conference called to announce a new private alliance of technology companies concerned with security, Clarke took the Department of Homeland Security and other government agencies to task for failing to act quickly on the National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace.
"The reorganization of security into DHS has, at least in the short term, made things worse," said Clarke, who is now chairman of Good Harbor Consulting LLC, a firm based in Arlington, Va., that counsels companies on security and other issues. "The government is less capable now of securing its network than it was a year ago. This doesnt have to go on."
Until March, Clarke was the chairman of the Presidents Critical Infrastructure Protection Board, which was dissolved when DHS became operational. Since his departure from Washington, he often has been sharply critical of the governments foot-dragging in regard to cyber-security.
Clarke added that part of the problem is that many people who were supposed to join DHS from other government agencies opted to stay where they were, severely damaging the departments efforts to get up and running.
"All of the National Infrastructure Protection Center was supposed to move," he said. "Instead, a lot of people decided to stay at the FBI. Most of what was moved were empty jobs."
Clarkes sentiments were echoed by others at the event, including Ronn Bailey, CEO of Vanguard Integrity Professionals, a security software company based in Las Vegas, which is sponsoring the new alliance. The new coalition, known as the Vanguard Technology Alliance, is meant to help its members share ideas and technology to create new security solutions.
"The government effort has lost momentum. I personally believe were vulnerable to a cyber-attack of 9/11 magnitude or greater," Bailey said. "We are going to address this situation, and we are going to do it now."
Clarke also took on the subject of cyber-terrorism and whether terrorist organizations are really capable of successfully attacking Americas vital networks.
"IT has always been a major interest of al-Qaeda. We know that from the laptops we have that weve recovered that have hacking tools on them," said Clarke, who also once served as the nations top counter-terrorism official. "It is a huge mistake to think that al-Qaeda isnt technologically sophisticated, a fatal one. They are well-trained, they are smart. They proved it on 9/11 with one style of attack, and they can prove it again."