The officer, Gen. Keith B. Alexander, suggested that such a heavily restricted network would allow the government to impose greater protections for the nation’s vital, official on-line operations. General Alexander labeled the new network “a secure zone, a protected zone.” Others have nicknamed it “dot-secure.”
It would provide to essential networks like those that tie together the banking, aviation, and public utility systems the kind of protection that the military has built around secret military and diplomatic communications networks — although even these are not completely invulnerable.
For years, experts have warned of the risks of Internet attacks on civilian networks. An article published a few months ago by the National Academy of Engineering said that “cyber systems are the ‘weakest link’ in the electricity system,” and that “security must be designed into the system from the start, not glued on as an afterthought.”
General Alexander, an Army officer who leads the military’s new Cyber Command, did not explain just where the fence should be built between the conventional Internet and his proposed secure zone, or how the gates would be opened to allow appropriate access to information they need every day. General Alexander said the White House hopes to complete a policy review on cyber issues in time for Congress to debate updated or new legislation when it convenes in January.