Obama needs to back SAFETY Act on cybersecurity

By JAMES JAY CARAFANO and ERIC SAYERS, UPI Outside View Commentators  |  April 9, 2009 at 10:44 AM
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WASHINGTON, April 9 (UPI) -- As we have previously noted, since the terrorist attacks on the United States of Sept. 11, 2001, the U.S. Congress has acted decisively and to good effect in one area of liability protection.

The Support Anti-Terrorism by Fostering Effective Technologies Act lowered the liability risks of manufacturers that provide products and services used in combating terrorism.

The act, passed in 2002, protects the incentive to produce products that the secretary of homeland security designates as Qualified Anti-Terrorism Technologies. The Department of Homeland Security has made a concerted effort to implement the program, and about 200 companies have obtained SAFETY Act certification. This process is explored in the Heritage Foundation paper "Fighting Terrorism, Addressing Liability: A Global Proposal" by James Jay Carafano, Backgrounder No. 2138, published May 21, 2008. It is available online at heritage.org/Research/NationalSecurity/bg2138.cfm.

This SAFETY Act-generated program should be used to accelerate the fielding of commercial products and services for U.S. national cybersecurity.

It is also essential to implement the National Security Professional Development program. The Obama administration should build on this program, a process to educate, certify and track national-security professionals. This program was launched by President George W. Bush in an executive order in May 2007. It is available online at georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov/news/releases/2007/05/20070517-6.html.

The National Security Professional Development program should be modified based on the experience of the last two years in attempting to implement the program and be used to develop leaders skilled in cyber-strategic leadership and other critical national-security missions. This process is explored in James Jay Carafano's paper, "Missing Pieces in Homeland Security: Interagency Education, Assignments, and Professional Accreditation," Executive Memorandum No. 1013, published October 16, 2006. It is available at heritage.org/Research/HomelandSecurity/em1013.cfm.

Taking these cumulative steps to advance U.S. national cybersecurity are only the first steps on a long road.

Efforts to use the cyber domain for malicious purposes have matured in scope and sophistication over the past two decades. This threat will only intensify as terrorists continue to embrace its low costs to entry and states operationalize its power as a new domain of 21st-century warfare.

Meeting this challenge in both the public and private sectors will require careful planning and consideration in the coming years. Initiating a professional-development, cyber-strategic leadership program to begin training future leaders in the complexities of the cyberspace arena is imperative to the future security of America's cyber infrastructure.

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(James Jay Carafano, Ph.D., is assistant director of the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International Studies and senior research fellow for national security and homeland security in the Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies, a division of the Davis Institute, at the Heritage Foundation. Eric Sayers is a research assistant in the Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies at the Heritage Foundation.)

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(United Press International's "Outside View" commentaries are written by outside contributors who specialize in a variety of important issues. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of United Press International. In the interests of creating an open forum, original submissions are invited.)

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