The nation is at risk, according to Robert T. Marsh, the Chairman of the President's Commission on Critical Infrastructure Protection. In a speech to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York (Sept. 24, 1997), Mr. Marsh warned of the consequences of a loss of public confidence if key segments of the economy are cut off:
"Besides banking and finance, we have been studying and analyzing telecommunications, electric power, oil & gas delivery and storage, transportation, water, emergency services, and government services -- those life support systems that the President identified as critical because their incapacity or destruction would have a debilitating effect on our defense and/or economic security."
He then identified the potential culprits: terrorists or agents of foreign governments.
But elsewhere on the Commission's Web site is a warning that the Year 2000 Problem could cause similar disruptions.
Terrorists are a maybe. Y2K is sure. Terrorists are sometime. Y2K is specific.
Pay attention to Mr. Marsh's proposal of a new "partnership":
"Our goal all along has been to create a public-private partnership to protect our future. Government alone cannot address the problem. My aim here today is to further promote that partnership."
When someone is invited to give a speech to the New York FED, the speech will be important.
* * * * * * *
I know that you have been discussing security -- from overall network security to trends in Internet security -- at great length today. I'm going to spend the next few minutes talking about the nationwide security perspective, particularly the security and protection of our nation's critical infrastructures, including the banking and finance industry. . . .
President Clinton established the Commission last July and charged us to recommend a national policy for protecting and assuring the nation's critical national infrastructures. For just over a year now, we have been working to identify and assess vulnerabilities and threats -- and then to develop a national strategy and an implementation plan.
Besides banking and finance, we have been studying and analyzing telecommunications, electric power, oil & gas delivery and storage, transportation, water, emergency services, and government services -- those life support systems that the President identified as critical because their incapacity or destruction would have a debilitating effect on our defense and/or economic security. Without electric power and telecommunications, for example, our military could not deploy, our banks could not operate, and our citizens could not enjoy their customary high quality of life.
Critical infrastructures have long been lucrative targets for anyone wanting to do harm to another country. . . .
Clearly there is nothing new about infrastructures being targets. So why was the President motivated to create this Commission at this time?
It was the realization that
•our society was becoming vitally dependent on these infrastructures for its very well-being;
•the infrastructures themselves were becoming increasingly dependent upon information technologies for their functioning;
•they were becoming increasingly interconnected through advances in computers and telecommunications, most especially the Internet, and
•they were consequently becoming increasingly vulnerable to disruption by simple methods readily available to relatively unskilled persons intent on doing harm. . . .
Our research has also led us to a new understanding of the threat. Neither the actor nor the intent are known, but we do know that the capability to do harm -- the skills and technology necessary -- are expansive, and growing, and getting cheaper by the day. . . .
The Commission was uniquely tailored for this task. In recognition that the critical infrastructures are largely owned and operated by the private sector, the Commission is a joint public and private venture. Half the Commissioners are full-time career government senior executives, and half are senior representatives from the private sector who have agreed to serve one year as full-time government employees. . . .
Our goal all along has been to create a public-private partnership to protect our future. Government alone cannot address the problem. My aim here today is to further promote that partnership. . . .
At the policy-making level, we will recommend a very high level council comprised of senior CEOs from throughout the critical infrastructures, meeting regularly with selected Cabinet Officers. This National Infrastructure Assurance Council would propose policies and focus attention on infrastructure concerns. The purpose is to open the door of policy formulation to include the private sector infrastructure owners and operators -- those that are closest to the problem and best know the range of solutions.