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10/12/2007
05:50 PM
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U.S. Government Seeks To Deny The Internet To Its Enemies

The 2007 National Strategy for Homeland Security focuses on the "uninterrupted use of the Internet and the communications systems that comprise our cyberinfrastructure."

Cyberspace may become a more active battlefield in the Bush administration's war on terrorism.

The new National Strategy for Homeland Security, issued earlier this week by the White House, places a greater emphasis on the "uninterrupted use of the Internet and the communications systems, data, monitoring, and control systems that comprise our cyberinfrastructure."

While such sentiment was clearly evident in the government's 2002 National Strategy for Homeland Security, the new guidelines show more concern for and about the Internet, in keeping with the government's 2006 National Infrastructure Protection Plan.

One measure of that is the frequency with which word "Internet" appears in the two national security plans. In the 2002 guidelines, "Internet" appears five times; in this year's version, it appears nine times.

The new guidelines acknowledge the need to better secure cyberspace; they also suggest that defensive actions will be accompanied by offensive measures.

"The Internet has become a training ground, with terrorists acquiring instruction once possible only through physical training camps," the document explains. "In addition to discrediting their terrorist propaganda on the Internet with the promotion of truthful messages, we will seek to deny the Internet to our terrorist enemies as an effective safe haven for their recruitment, fund-raising, training, and operational planning."

Exactly how the government expects to deny the Internet to terrorists isn't spelled out. One possible way might be through the United State's de facto control of the Domain Name System, though it's unlikely that card would be played outside of a confrontation with a major world power.

Whatever its plan for cyberspace, the Bush administration describes the Internet as a tool for the nation's enemies and as a source of vulnerability.

"Terrorists increasingly exploit the Internet to communicate, proselytize, recruit, raise funds, and conduct training and operational planning," the document reads. "Hostile foreign governments have the technical and financial resources to support advanced network exploitation and launch attacks on the informational and physical elements of our cyberinfrastructure. Criminal hackers threaten our nation's economy and the personal information of our citizens, and they also could pose a threat if wittingly or unwittingly recruited by foreign intelligence or terrorist groups. Our cybernetworks also remain vulnerable to natural disasters."

The ongoing effort to secure U.S. cyberinfrastructure relies on federal, state, and local governments, working in conjunction with the private sector, to "prevent damage to, and the unauthorized use and exploitation of, our cybersystems," according to the guidelines.

The document doesn't detail the specific means by which such security will be realized.

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