WASHINGTON (CN) – President Barack Obama warned that the nation is “not as prepared as we should be,” in releasing a report on cyber security Friday. “We’ve failed to invest in the security of our digital infrastructure,” said the president, a reality tasted by his campaign during the general election when hackers broke into the computer system.
“To all of you who donated to our campaign, I want you to all rest assured, our fundraising website was untouched,” Obama said to laughter.
The break-in received no outside attention, said Obama, but hackers gained access to his campaign’s emails, files, policy position papers, travel plans, and more.
The report on cyber security was written by the National Security Council and Homeland Security Council.
In setting out plans to create a new cyber-security office in the White House, complete with a cyber-security coordinator, Obama pointed to other security breaches that warrant a national focus on the problem.
“Last year alone cyber criminals stole intellectual property from businesses worldwide worth up to $1 trillion,” he said, and told of one story where thieves stole millions of dollars from 130 ATMs in 49 cities around the world, all within 30 minutes.
During Russia’s invasion of Georgia, he said, “cyber attacks crippled Georgian government websites.”
“Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups have said they want to launch a cyber attack,” Obama added.
Announcing few concrete plans, Obama said the White House will review laws and work with state and local governments and the private sector to come up with a more detailed outline on how to protect the nation.
In a phone interview, Larry Clinton, who runs the Internet Security Alliance, called the appointment of an internet security coordinator a step “in the right direction,” but said the cyber-security coordinator would be in charge of developing more detailed policy.
The alliance represents corporate security interests before legislators and regulators.
“That’s 180 degrees from where we were at the outset of the Bush administration,” he added, explaining how the George W. Bush administration had dismissed Dick Clark, who wrote the book “Against All Enemies” and worked for both the George Bush Sr. and Bill Clinton administrations.
When asked about how the nation stands on cyber-security compared to other countries, Clinton replied, “We’re ahead of most other nations, maybe all other nations.” But, he added, “It’s hard to know what the Chinese are doing.”
“We could dramatically increase our security fairly quickly and fairly cheaply,” said Clinton whose group represents corporate security interests. “We actually know a whole lot on how to increase security, but we haven’t been doing it.”