WASHINGTON — The chief executive of Denver-based Quest Communications International,Inc.,told a Senate committee Thursday that the government should increase measures to protect the nation's communications network against a cyber terrorist attack.
Joseph Nacchio,who testified before a Senate Committee of Governmental Affairs hearing on infrastructure security,advised Congress to remove barriers that impede companies from sharing network security information with each other and the government. Under current standards,sharing information could hurt companies competitively,open them up to antitrust suits,and violate confidentiality.
“If I hire really smart hackers and figure out how to stop Code Red,I may not want to tell the government how we do it,” Nacchio said told reporters in a briefing. “We need to look at the laws that may need to be modified or adjusted … because we're all interconnected in cyberspace.”
Sen. Bob Bennett,R-Utah and member of the committee who spoke at the hearing,introduced a bill last month that would help companies share security information by guaranteeing them confidentiality.
Nacchio is one of a group of telecom executives appointed by the President to advise on security and emergency preparedness. He also recommended that the government increase penalties for cyber attacks and instate benchmarks and requirements for security practices in the telecommunications industry.
“We are only as strong as the weakest link because in cyberspace,because if a virus can penetrate one network,it can worm itself through,” Nacchio said during the briefing.
Kenneth Watson,president of Partnership for Critical Infrastructure Security,emphasized the role of private sector infrastructure owners and operators in preventing cyber attacks.
“The center of gravity is the private sector because everything depends on the private sector for all the services the infrastructure provides…we understand that we're all on the frontlines of defense,” Watson said.