Feds to open cyber-security ops center

Monday, 26 May 2003, 5:59 PM EST

Officials at the department of Homeland Security plan to announce this week the establishment of a national cyber-security center, which brings all the department's information security assets under one umbrella, according to people briefed on the plan.

So far, however, no one has been named to head the center, and security experts warn that without a strong leader, the center will lack the muscle it needs to be effective.

One of the main drivers behind the center is the need to improve the government's incident-response and information-sharing capabilities, which have come under fire in both public and private sectors, said Richard Clarke, former special adviser to the president for cyber-security, who resigned earlier this year. That criticism is likely to continue unless the department can attract a well-known security expert to run the center.

"The center will never become what it should be in terms of the national locus for policy unless there's a nationally recognized and high-level person with high-level access in the administration," Clarke said in an interview in Boston last week. "Because otherwise people will just consider it another bureaucratic organization. It's very key that they get the right person; very key that person has access to the president, the homeland security adviser and homeland security secretary."

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