US cyber security tsar Richard Clarke has called for an increase in spending to prevent cyber attacks on America's IT infrastructure.
Speaking at the Trusted Computing Conference, Clarke, chairman of President Bush's Critical Infrastructure Protection board, said: "Think not about the costs that have already occurred, but as a measure of what could occur. Our enemies are smart; they are not to be underestimated."
He told a group of about 150 security and privacy experts at the Microsoft-hosted event that US IT infrastructure is fragile "because we didn't build it to do the things that it is doing".
According to Clarke, freedom isn't free and neither is security. "No one is saying we shouldn't pay more for security now," he said, warning that cyber attacks on the nation's IT infrastructure could potentially cause "catastrophic damage to the economy".
Clarke also defended his idea for a separate government network, Govnet, saying it would be less vulnerable to malicious attack than the internet. "It would be impervious to even the most dangerous denial of service attack," he said, adding that it is not designed to replace the internet or to be a silver bullet.
In addition, Clarke said he opposed a national ID card and could not name one official who supported the current proposal for them. "Everyone I've talked to doesn't think it's a good idea," he said.
Clarke added that it was not clear that the US needed to have a mandatory identity card, but suggested that there might be a use for credit card smartcards that contain data and microchips. Such cards could be used for specific actions like crossing US borders, he said.
Oracle chief executive Larry Ellison has proposed a national smartcard containing basic information about its holder, such as a Social Security number, that would be linked to a federal database filled with detailed personal information.
Privacy groups warned that the cards would allow the government to monitor citizens' activities.
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