Following Sandy, DHS seeks security ‘Cyber Reserve’

November 3, 2012

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The damage to the electrical grid from Superstorm Sandy is just a taste of what could happen from a major cyberattack, says Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano, CSO Security and Risk reports.

And a DHS task force said this week that one way to minimize that kind of risk is to recruit a “Cyber Reserve” of computer security pros that could be deployed throughout the country to help the nation defend and recover from such an attack.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said that such an attack would, “cause physical destruction and the loss of life. In fact, it would paralyze and shock the nation and create a new, profound sense of vulnerability. … [Attackers could] derail passenger trains, or even more dangerous, derail passenger trains loaded with lethal chemicals. They could contaminate the water supply in major cities, or shut down the power grid across large parts of the country.”

Jim Finkle reports at Reuters that the Deputy Secretary hopes to have a working model for a Cyber Reserve within a year, with the first members drawn from retired government employees now working for private companies, but also recruit from Department of Defense contractors, veterans’ organizations and outside groups.

The management of such a reserve of security pros could be tricky, however, since it would involve security clearances and allowing people access to confidential information and tools that could leak into the wild unless they were tightly controlled.

However, even if the U.S. does get a Cyber Reserve up and running within a year, it will still be late to the party. Steve Elwart, writing in WND, noted that Estonia has a “white-hat hacker organization” that support’s the country’s National Guard; that the U.K. is developing a program; and that China is, “actively recruiting a vast [cyber] army of up to one-half billion soldiers.”