Net Guard Needs IT Pros

IT workers are willing to volunteer aid during times of crisis.

The motto of the National Guard Is "Always Ready, Always There," and soon, the U.S. government will ask IT workers to stand by the same credo.

Within the sweeping Homeland Security bill, recently signed into law by President Bush, is a section calling for the formation of a "National Emergency Technology Guard." This NET Guard would consist of volunteers in the science and technology sector who could quickly respond to attacks to restore communications and information systems.

The NET Guard idea is based on the U.S. Senates Science and Technology Emergency Mobilization Act, which not only introduced the idea of the volunteer IT core but also defines how this NET Guard should be managed and how volunteers should be certified.

While there are many aspects of Homeland Security that I disagree with, especially where it erodes privacy and individual freedom, I like the idea of a tech guard.

After all, IT workers have always shown a willingness to volunteer aid during times of crisis, whether its terrorist attacks or the Morris worm. After the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the IT community quickly mobilized to help restore connectivity and get businesses up and running with new equipment and bandwidth.

But in many cases, these IT volunteers were unable to help due to their inability to access affected areas or to get in touch with people in charge. If a prepared NET Guard has the kind of access that groups like FEMA have, then not only will its members be in a better position to help, but they will also be able to coordinate assistance efforts from others in the IT community.

Theres the chance that it will just create another bloated bureaucracy. But I hope that it will become a force that is always ready to respond to attacks on IT infrastructure.