WH declassifies excerpts from Bush-era cybersecurity report

The report prescribes that the president "establish a front line of defense" and better address emerging cybersecurity threats.

It also calls on both White House officials and lawmakers to boost domestic Web security programs, especially with respect to the federal government's classified networks, while expanding cybersecurity research and education programs.

The Obama White House decided on Tuesday to declassify the Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative (CNCI), a 2008 report signed by President George W. Bush that has formed the bedrock of the White House's cybersecurity policy.

The White House said it chose to declassify the report out of a commitment to transparency, one official wrote on the White House's blog.

But many are viewing it as an attempt to assuage growing concerns that the federal government is unprepared to handle a cyberattack of unprecedented scale, following the news of two high-profile cyberattacks last month.

Still, critics are likely to charge the review only signifies the great lengths the federal government must still traverse in order to protect its own Web infrastructure.

The full review recommends 12 steps that both the White House and federal lawmakers should take to protect its  infrastructure -- including the creation of an "intrusion detection" system to monitor breaches of federal networks.

It also calls for improvements in current cybersecurity information sharing procedures, as well as the creation of a "government-wide cyber counterintelligence plan."

Many of those suggestions have become part of President Barack Obama's own Cyberspace Policy Review, issued last year. But a number of areas remain untouched, primarily due to a lack of funding or congressional movement on those issues.

Still, the White House seemed to implore lawmakers on Tuesday to take decisive action and focus more heavily on cybersecurity.

"We will not defeat our cyber adversaries because they are weakening, we will defeat them by becoming collectively stronger, through stronger technology, a stronger cadre of security professionals, and stronger partnerships," wrote Harold Schmidt, the Obama administration's top cybersecurity adviser, on the White House blog on Tuesday.

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