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Check for cyber weaknesses

September 11, 2008

Re "Hacking could become weapon in U.S. arsenal," Sept. 8

Prudent system administrators assume that all traffic is monitored by undergraduate pranksters, Al Qaeda agents and the Justice Department.

My department requires faculty, staff and students to use encryption at a level that the National Security Agency is believed to be able to crack within a year, but that is otherwise invulnerable. If an army, navy or air force fails to use such encryption software for mission-related communication of any kind, it is incompetent.

For our National Military Strategy for Cyberspace Operations, we should deploy a team that aggressively probes weaknesses in military computer systems, particularly our own. We should not expect or rely on our enemies to remain vulnerable, as the quoted military planners seem to assume.

I believe that Georgia's websites were interfered with by a distributed denial-of-service attack. Our strategy should include encouraging high-level Internet service providers to assist in mitigating attacks of this kind.

James F. Carter

Los Angeles

The writer is a senior programmer for the UCLA mathematics department.

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