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US Beefing Up Cybersecurity with Private Sector Email, Internet Scans

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US Beefing Up Cybersecurity with Private Sector Email, Internet ScansUS Beefing Up Cybersecurity with Private Sector Email, Internet Scans

The US Department of Homeland Security will be starting to regularly scan internet and email transmissions of private sector defense contractors.

A report released by Reuters last week revealed that the US government will start scanning internet traffic “headed into and out of defense contractors to include far more of the country’s private, civilian-run infrastructure.” The private sector employees that will be targeted will include those working in transportation, banks and utilities and the scans will be performed by the Department of Homeland Security.

This new program is part of Obama’s Executive Order on Cybersecurity which was announced last month during the President’s State of the Union address. But DHS will only be acting as “the middleman” in this process, focusing on simply gathering the information before passing it to cybersecurity providers that hold security clearances. These companies will then process the internet and email transmissions and report back in “aggregate statistics,” a senior DHS official told Reuters. The exact procedures are still in the works and will be established within the next five months.

The private sector companies included in this program are participating on a voluntary basis; however this does not mean that the program doesn’t infringe upon civil liberties as seemingly every communication coming in and out will be scanned. One technique used to examine the information is called “deep packet inspection,” in which all aspects of the transmission are revealed, including the content of an email. But at this point it isn’t clear if this technique will be used as the primary information that will be examined includes email sender names, web addresses, strings of characters and the like.

More information on the methods of investigation of the private sector internet and email communications along with companies taking part will be available as the program takes shape within the next few months.

Kasia LorencKasia LorencKasia Lorenc is a contributor to Tom's IT Pro. Combining her love of IT and marketing, she currently serves as the Director of Technology and Search Marketing for Zacuto USA in Chicago.

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