Is Cybersecurity a Private or Public Problem?

by on July 16, 2009 · 0 comments

Evgeny Morozov has an op-ed in the New York Times today that makes the case that cyberattacks are not an existential threat to the country or anything even close. He also argues that more secrecy around cybersecurity is exactly the wrong way to address the problem, citing the old geek adage “given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow.” He even explains that “Much of the real computer talent today is concentrated in the private sector,” and that “It’s no secret that many computer science graduates perceive government jobs as an ‘IT ghetto.'”

So far so good. Bravo, in fact. Unfortunately, he suggests that “To inject more talent into government IT jobs, it is necessary to raise their visibility and prestige, perhaps by creating national Tech Corps that could introduce talent into sectors that need it most.”

As Jim Harper has noted, given that cyberattacks may not be as serious a threat as many assume, it might be better to allow the private sector (which has the talent and the incentive) to protect its own infrastructure. DHS and the military can protect the .govs and the military the .mils. The government could benefit from private R&D on run-of-the-mill cybersecurity, and they can focus on protecting critical and secret assets, which in any case should not be connected directly to the wider internet.

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