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Cyber security is one of President-elect Obama's many concerns when he becomes president next month

A new report issued by the Center for Strategic and International Studies urges President-elect Barack Obama to create a new White House department aimed at protecting U.S. cyber interests from hackers and other foreign agents.

"America's failure to protect cyberspace is one of the most urgent national security problems facing the new administration that will take office in January 2009," the report states.  Cyber safety is "a battle fought mainly in the shadows.  It is a battle we are losing."

The 96-page "Securing Cyberspace for the 44th Presidency" report was made public at the start of the week and offers numerous ideas and recommendations for government officials who are growing more concerned about the possibility of cyberwarfare.

"The United States must treat cybersecurity as one of the most important national security challenges it faces," according to the report.  It adds that the current Bush administration's Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative "good but not sufficient" and the use of computers as attack tools creates "a strategic issue on par with weapons of mass destruction and global jihad."

Furthermore, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has not been able to properly secure U.S. government computers from cyber attacks, and should no longer have the responsibility.  DHS isn't suited to handle technology issues, as the agency uses "archaic" methods that cannot keep up with new attacks.

At least five members of Obama's transition team helped contribute to the report, and his staff is eager to see how they can better protect the United States from cyber attacks.

DHS will likely be strengthened once Obama takes office, but even so, it's not recommended the agency continue to have the lead in cyber security, as it "is not the agency to lead in a conflict with foreign intelligence agencies or militaries, or even well organized international cyber criminals."

In an ideal scenario, the new office would combine the Joint Inter-Agency Cyber Task Force and DHS National Center for Cybersecurity while recruiting cyber security experts to help create new levels of defense.

Security experts believe Obama will be receptive to the new ideas, and will begin to swiftly create new ideas to help protect the United States from cyber security threats.

A copy of the report is available here.





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