Risk Assessments

Human Quarantines Seen as Model In Cyberworld

Real-World Methods Eyed to Stop Spread of Viruses in Cyberworld
Human Quarantines Seen as Model In Cyberworld
Could methods employed by the World Health Organization to quarantine people to prevent the spread of deadly diseases provide a roadmap on how to prevent virtual viruses from spreading in the cyberworld?

The Commission on Cybersecurity for the 44th Presidency, the group that provided President Barack Obama with a blueprint on how to secure the government's and nation's critical IT infrastructure, is seeking an answer to that question.

"There could be some parallels with the World Health Organization where we would establish an international-type understanding to ensure quarantines of certain ill computer products and software capabilities until they are cleaned for proper use on the international information network of the Internet," retired Air Force Gen. Harry Raduege, commission co-chair and director of the Deloitte Center for Cyber Innovation, said in an interview Friday.

The World Health Organization has developed robust procedures to quarantine people with certain infection so others aren't contaminated. "We just don't allow them to get on an airplane or travel through the metro and spread their infectious disease," Raduege said. Analogous processes could be used to prevent computer viruses from spreading, he said.

Asked whether quarantines would be limited to software, or could be extended to hardware or networks, Raduege answered that's what a commission working group is exploring. Commission recommendations would likely be a start to identifying a solution, not a final resolution. "Certainly, we won't have all the answers," he said, "but perhaps we will be the catalyst that will cause some additional thought process to be established in this area."

Unlike the original report, a comprehensive set of recommendations issued shortly after the presidential election two years ago, future studies from the commission will appear as white papers, such as the one issued in July, A Human Capital Crisis in Cybersecurity: Technical Proficiency Matters.

Other commission working groups are exploring authentication, privacy and dynamic defense, also known as situational awareness. Raduege said a white paper on authentication could be published within a month.

About the Author

Eric Chabrow

Eric Chabrow

Retired Executive Editor, GovInfoSecurity

Chabrow, who retired at the end of 2017, hosted and produced the semi-weekly podcast ISMG Security Report and oversaw ISMG's GovInfoSecurity and InfoRiskToday. He's a veteran multimedia journalist who has covered information technology, government and business.

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