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Public, private sector at odds over cyber security

August 26, 2008 |  5:00 am

Three very big and very different computer security breaches that have dominated recent headlines did more than show how badly the Internet needs major repairs. They also exposed the huge rift between corporate America and the federal government over who should fix it, cyber-security experts say.

In the last few months, law enforcement officials cracked an international ring that tapped customer databases and trafficked in tens of millions of credit card numbers; a researcher uncovered a major flaw that permits hackers to steer some Web surfers to fake versions of popular websites filled with malicious software; and computer assaults, which some researchers said they had traced back to Russia's state-run telecommunications firms, crippled websites belonging to the country of Georgia.

Yet the episodes did little to boost cyber security higher on the agendas of the federal government or the two major presidential candidates.

"Nothing is happening," said Jerry Dixon, the former director of the National Cyber Security Division at the Department of Homeland Security. "This has got to be in the top five national security priorities."

Read the full story for details on why there has been such a rift between the public and private sectors over Internet security and what experts say the next president should do to tackle the problem.

-- Joseph Menn