Monday, May 09, 2005

CyberWar Is Coming, So Of Course We Cutback On IT

An editorial in last Friday's LA Times pointed to yet another disturbing sign of the Bush Administration's disdain for non-traditional security issues. In this case the area being neglected is Cyber Security.
The Pentagon fumble in which military officials essentially published on the Web the full version of a supposedly censored report was news last week. But occurring beneath the news radar is a more fundamental cyber-security problem: the Bush administration's cutting the funding of university-based information technology research by nearly half over the last three years.

Since 1961, the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency, or DARPA, has distributed IT research dollars in largely open-ended grants to universities. The grants encouraged basic research aimed not at marketable innovations but at basic scientific mysteries. DARPA and its investments have paid off handsomely nevertheless.

Its legendary role in developing the Internet as a free-for-all instead of a commercially owned space is widely known. Less so are its militarily and commercially important developments, such as global positioning satellites, the JPEG file format for efficiently storing photographs and Websearching technologies like those later refined by Google.
Now, I know that DARPA grants don't necessarily deal directly with Cyber Security, but with Cyber Security becoming increasingly problematic and with potential adversaries investing heavily in cyber weapons and tactics we need more funding to IT research centers, not less.