2000 CPEO Military List Archive

From: Lenny Siegel <lsiegel@cpeo.org>
Date: Thu, 17 Feb 2000 13:06:15 -0800 (PST)
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] Congressional DENIAL OF SERVICE
Under pressure from House Commerce Committee Chairman Thomas J. Bliley
(R-Virginia), U.S. EPA has severed its electronic links to the outside
world. EPA's web sites are down. E-mail in and out of the agency does
not work. It is not yet clear how long this will last.

According to the Associated Press, "Bliley said that investigators from
the General Accounting Office in December were able to penetrate
sensitive areas of the EPA computer system through the agency's public
Web site and gain access to sensitive material not generally available
to the public."

Eric Wohlschlegel, a spokesman for Bliley, said "This is a matter of
protecting sensitive and confidential data that could put national and
economic security at risk. EPA's assertion that this sensitive data is
now secure behind a firewall is absolutely false."

In fact, it's the electronic isolation of U.S. EPA that endangers U.S.
security. Daily, large numbers of Americans rely upon access to EPA's
web site for environmental data, contact information, and policy
documents. A large share of EPA's routine business with the public,
private industry, and other agencies is conducted via e-mail. That
activity - admittedly imperfect - protects the American people and our
environment from environmental insult and disaster.

Bliley's action - and EPA's inability to resist politically - are
comparable, but more pervasive, to the recent, widely publicized attacks
on leading electronic commerce web systems. If agencies that could be
victimized by cracker attacks were all forced to shut down public
information and correspondence systems until they could prove
invulnerability, then it would probably shut down the day-to-day
activities of the government. My guess is that crackers, if they wished,
could illegally read Congressman Bliley's personal electronic
correspondence, but that's no reason to shut down Congress's Internet

That's a reason to build security into standard operating systems, and
for EPA to work quickly to protect its confidential data. 

Unless people who care about environmental protection protest
immediately and loudly, Bliley will continue his attacks on EPA.


Lenny Siegel
Director, Center for Public Environmental Oversight
c/o PSC, 222B View St., Mountain View, CA 94041
Voice: 650/961-8918 or 650/969-1545
Fax: 650/968-1126

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