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Cybersecurity office seeks additional staff, funds

A top federal cybersecurity official on Tuesday suggested that the FBI's efforts to counter cyberterrorism and protect the nation's critical infrastructure require additional resources even as he applauding the federal response to a new computer threat.

At a press conference to praise the government and private sector for its reaction to the dangers posed by the "Code Red" virus, Ronald Dick, the director of the FBI's National Infrastructure Protection Agency (NIPC), told reporters that his agency still faces a shortage of resources and funding, as well as regulatory hurdles, in its quest to allay cyber threats.

Touching on an NIPC staff shortage that the General Accounting Office outlined in a recent report, Dick touted "the real need" for the NIPC to hire "analysts that understand the various sectors" and "take a big picture strategic look at what the vulnerabilities are."

Dick also outlined several hurdles law enforcement agencies face in pursuing computer criminals, including jurisdictional issues that arise in court and delay probes. "Time is of the essence in most of these investigations," he said.

Dick said the government should pass initiatives that would encourage the private sector to share data on cyberattacks with law enforcement. He also said the $5,000 threshold for damages that warrant an investigation should be revised.

The Bush administration soon is expected to unveil a new executive order to further the cyber-crime agenda, and Dick said the order will try to make clear that information security is more than "a collateral duty" for agency heads. "It has to be a primary duty," he said.