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Commentary & Opinion

Thanks to Conficker and GhostNet, the potential impact of botnets has finally spilled into the mainstream media, with predictably overwrought results. Botnets are, of course, a very serious challenge. They are so successful at perpetrating online crime that some researchers, reporters and analysts have openly discussed whether the Internet itself is to blame. These pundits argue that the most logical response is to rebuild the Internet from the ground up, using a model that replaces today's emphasis on privacy with another that places security at the forefront.
Protecting our nation's borders is a daunting task, requiring constant vigilance by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and border and port security officials. Because border and port security officials face a unique set of challenges at any given point of entry, increased awareness and enhanced security operations are needed. While sensor-based intelligence information is currently being used to enhance security, the ever-expanding number of land-based and airborne sensor platforms is providing an unmanageable deluge of information – ultimately causing some important information to be overlooked.
Becoming an Intelligence-led policing organization, or ILP, is a complicated and arduous task, yet many police executives still believe just building a fusion center makes them 'intelligence-led.' In fact, that's just not enough! Becoming an intelligence-led organization involves change from the very top to the very bottom of the law enforcement organization. A combination of threat assessment, information collection, and analysis -- consistently applied to command level decision-making -- is the true formula for success.
It is clear that the president is the ultimate 'big hammer' when it comes down to making different agencies of the government cooperate and behave properly. As with any CEO, he cannot be everywhere and needs clear policies that take care of the 98 percent of "common cases" that occur each day. Some so-called common cases revolve around national policy for handing attacks against the government. Other common cases revolve around agencies that need to cooperate with the civilian infrastructure in handling threats. As it now stands, there is no 'employee policy manual' that keeps the CEO out of the day-to-day functions of cyber-security.
Network security is a tough job. The job is even tougher for those entrusted to protect our government networks from intruders. From managing the sensitivity level of the data to continuously monitoring the network, securing databases is one of those jobs that can have dire consequences if done insufficiently or haphazardly.
The government and commercial market for cyber-security products and services is hot. Governments use vast amounts of information technology to conduct operations and to interface with citizens. Operations must be conducted securely and with an assurance that information is accurate and protected from unauthorized access and disclosure. Consider that:
Large, popular sporting events are cause for concern when it comes to network security and performance, and March Madness is one of the most notorious for causing IT headaches. Homeland security professionals should be exceptionally cautious, because they can unsuspectingly open up agency networks to Internet-borne threats or inadvertently invite hackers to steal sensitive information. As a result of visiting the wrong Web pages, naive users can download malware, causing grave damage to the network and equipment.
Shortly after 9/11, at the 2003 National Cyber Security Summit, Tom Ridge, then Secretary of Homeland Security, underscored the fact that the security of our nation's critical infrastructures could not be achieved without public education campaigns and public-private partnerships. Ridge further noted that, 'the federal government can't succeed in these efforts alone.'Since that time, these words have resonated as an ideal rather than a reality. As the new Obama administration moves to enhance cyber-security, revising critical infrastructure protection mandates from voluntary to mandatory status, the concept of public and private sector collaboration is at the forefront once again.
The specter of gun violence threatens cities virtually throughout the world, and the deepening economic downturn appears already to have caused an increase in crime rates as well as gun violence. Battling their own budget reductions amidst the broader financial crisis, many law enforcement and defense agencies are turning to wide-area acoustic surveillance systems in order to make the most of already scant resources -- and to give them an edge on gun crime.
In a post-9/11 world, video surveillance demands continue to grow for government security practitioners. Better coverage, longer retention times and improved video quality are required while budgets come under increasing pressure. IP-based video surveillance has made significant inroads in market adoption for new installations. IP cameras bring better resolution, reducing the cameras required, while delivering better coverage.IP-based retention is the fastest growing enhancement for new deployments due to digital video recorder (DVR) limitations. More than 50 percent of DVRs will suffer a disk failure during their service life because only high-end DVRs are typically equipped with RAID protection against video loss.

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