Bush Admin Plans to Install Black Box Sensors on Private Computer Networks

The Bush administration wants to place more black boxes on private-sector computer networks. We've already learned a lot about the NSA wiretap program and its Narus STA 6400 splitter -- that's the black box that AT&T whistleblower Mark Klein reported the NSA placed at a major node for voice and Internet communications (inside this secret room).

The president's budget wants to go much further. It moves beyond telcos and allocates $6 billion for a secretive system that is designed to protect government and private computer systems from attack. According to the Wall Street Journal, the White House proposal "would likely require the government to install sensors on private, company networks."

This proposal repeats the mistakes of the Federal Intrusion Detection Network, which proposed similar monitoring of private computer systems when it was proposed in 1999. That aspect of FIDNet was quickly withdrawn, for at least three good reasons:

1. Private companies are understandably reluctant to permit the government to attach unknown hardware or software to their corporate systems. The risks of security breach and operational problems are too high, especially given the long history of computer security failures by the federal agencies themselves.

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