Cyber-Security: Is the Govt Doing Enough?

Akamai's chief scientist claims the Internet is "very insecure" and the government is not providing enough funding to fix the problem.

CAMBRIDGE, Mass.—The Internet is inherently insecure, and the government is no longer providing sufficient funding to help correct the problem, so said a leading member of an Internet content delivery company at a conference here over the weekend.

"The Internet is very insecure," said F. Thomson Leighton in his keynote speech at the Harvard Business School Cyberposium 2005. Leighton, co-founder and chief scientist at Akamai Technologies Inc., based here, noted that over 4,000 viruses were found last year and that 83 percent of the countrys financial institutions were compromised.

And the government is not doing enough to help combat the problem, Leighton said.

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Leighton, who is a member of the Presidents Information Technology Advisory Committee, or PITAC, said that the government has cut back on the amount of funding it is pledging to cyber-security.

"I think the impact will be that its going to take us longer to address the problems," he said in an interview with eWEEK. "And I dont see private industry picking up the slack. I think this is a problem that really requires fundamental research of a long-term nature; its not going to be ready in a year or two. And that traditionally is where the federal government provides funding."

Leighton added: "Private industry will often focus more on short-term research. So it really requires the federal government. And thats one of the recommendations the committee is making, that we need more fundamental research on cyber-security."

Leighton said PITAC will be releasing its report in the next few weeks. "Its pointing out the problems that we have, that government is increasingly classifying the research that it does fund, which then means it wont benefit the civilian infrastructure," he said.

In addition, Leighton said, the Internet can be expensive and hard to provision, and needs better performance, scalability and reliability, as well as the aforementioned security.

One solution from Akamai is on-demand computing for Web applications, Leighton said.

On-demand computing enables the next-generation Internet, he said. "Were moving from the Web layer to the IP [Internet protocol] layer," he added.

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