Can the feds make software more secure? Yup!

Monday, 10 March 2003, 11:12 AM EST

We've seen some big changes in the government's computer security efforts recently. On Feb. 28, President Bush dissolved the position of White House special advisor on cybersecurity. The very next day, several government computer security agencies, including the Justice Department's National Infrastructure Protection Center (NIPC), quietly shifted their allegiances to the new Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Two weeks before all this, a critical security vulnerability appeared in Sendmail, the most popular mail-server application. The flaw affected between 50 to 70 percent of e-mail servers worldwide. Those who knew about the security hole rushed to install patches on critical infrastructure systems before the general public--and hackers--discovered it. Despite the behind-the-scenes bureaucratic chaos, the vulnerability news didn't leak out before the government's official announcement on March 3.

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