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House Passes Cyber R&D Bill
Associated Press
11:50 a.m. Feb. 7, 2002 PST

WASHINGTON -- The House voted Thursday to provide colleges and research groups with 
$800 million over the next five years to figure out new ways to protect computers 
against hackers.

The bill, fueled in part by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and a new focus on 
weaknesses in business and government computer security, passed 400-12.

"...All the tools of our daily lives are connected to and reliant upon computer 
networks," said House Science Committee Chairman Sherwood Boehlert (R-New York). "A 
cyber attack could knock out electricity, drinking water and sewage systems, financial 
institutions, assembly lines and communications."

The bill would create new research and education grants at the National Science 
Foundation and the National Institute of Standards and Technology. It was endorsed by 
several technology trade groups and universities that have lamented the lack of 
college courses in computer security.

Harris Miller, president of the Information Technology Association of America, said 
the bill is critical to building a larger base of information security professionals 
and improving information sharing.

It now moves to the Senate, and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) is considering whether to 
sponsor the measure there, said spokesmen for Wyden and Boehlert.

Almost every federal agency has been criticized by government investigators for lax 
computer security.

Securing the nation's infrastructure, from the national power grid to individual 
computers, became more of a Bush administration priority after Sept. 11. Recently, 
Microsoft's top security guru, Howard Schmidt, joined White House technology adviser 
Richard Clarke's staff.

While current cyber attacks are usually confined to harassments and website graffiti, 
security experts predict the assaults will be more dangerous in the future. Last year, 
the CIA said it knew of three countries -- the United States, China and Russia -- that 
are training soldiers to attack and defend targets through the Internet.

"In this new age, we must have training both for a new generation of cyber warriors 
whose most important weapon is not a gun, but a laptop," said Rep. Lamar Smith 

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