GOP's Computer Security Reality

SAN MATEO (08/01/2000) - The U.S. Secret Service won't be the only high-profile security group in Philadelphia at the Republican National Convention. A computer security organization will sound the alarm over the increasing vulnerability of America's network-based society on Wednesday.

Pittsburgh-based Carnegie Mellon's Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) will brief a group of political and corporate heavyweights who are gathered just across the state to usher Texas Gov. George W. Bush officially onto the Republican ticket.

"We are going to run a session on the security issues now surrounding wide area networks like the Internet," said Rich Pethia, director of the Institute for Survivable Systems, which oversees CERT activities.

"Our motivation for doing this is to help people understand just how dependent we are becoming on interconnected networks. Everything from the military, the government, and our business and personal lives can be impacted by an attack," Pethia said.

Pethia said CERT's strategy in using the convention as a sounding board for its message was to get computer security issues etched early in the minds of politicians.

Over the two years that CERT has spent delivering testimony on computer security issues to Capitol Hill, Pethia has seen a possible shift lately in lawmakers' approach, he said.

"Congress has wanted to keep a hands-off policy with the Internet. But I think pressure is building around security issues and concerns over privacy. So the hands-off policy may be something they may want to revisit," Pethia said.

Convention attendees also got a glimpse at evolving health care technology. The Pittsburgh Regional Alliance on Tuesday held a demonstration to show the use of robotics in surgery.

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