Originally published: March 4, 2010
Last updated: March 4, 2010 - 1:35pm
The federal government could begin monitoring some private Internet networks for potential cyberattacks, a Department of Homeland Security official suggested Wednesday.
The technology to intercept and respond to those threats, called Einstein, already applies to federal networks and systems, said Greg Schaffer, assistant secretary for cybersecurity and communications. But Schaffer added that his department was weighing the possibility of deploying the program to the private sphere, primarily to protect key infrastructure like power plants from becoming vulnerable to cyberattack. Ultimately, Schaffer declined to provide specifics of that proposal, stressing that Einstein still remains highly classified. Nevertheless, the White House's decision this week to declassify a crucial, 2008 cybersecurity document reveals at least one important detail about the program: Einstein works primarily by sharing key Web communication data with the National Security Agency, long hampered by privacy concerns.