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Internet safety the topic of Homeland Security meeting

Jane Stebbins

BRECKENRIDGE – Shhhhh.

Homeland Security is coming to Breckenridge.

The newly formed federal agency, along with governors of several states, 10 state chief information officers (CIOs), representatives from the Social Security Association, the U.S Dept. of Justice, Federal Emergency Management Agency and Centers for Disease Control, among many others, will meet in Breckenridge Sunday through Tuesday.

There, they will discuss cyberterrorism, the newest perceived threat to the nation’s security, economy and general well-being.

“Since Sept 11, it’s on everybody’s radar screen,” said Rick Schremp, project director for electronic service delivery with the Social Security Administration. “It’s paramount now.”

The widespread use of the Internet has made it easier for hackers and terrorists to break down computer security barriers, alter or destroy data, steal top-secret information and, potentially, shut down society, Schremp said.

Much of the discussion this weekend will revolve around finding areas of vulnerability – particularly in the realm of e-business – and how to prevent acts of terrorism through the World Wide Web.

“People are reluctant to do business over the Internet because they’re not sure their information is secure,” Schremp said. “It’s a major issue. It’s a major roadblock to doing business over the Internet.”

In his mind, consumers ordering items via the Internet have no more reason to be skeptical than when they order things over the phone.

“It’s just as secure as a telephone line,” Schremp said. “People give out their credit card numbers all the time over the phone. In my mind there isn’t a difference.”

But it’s a far cry from credit card and identity theft to the theft of state secrets or a computer virus that shuts down a region’s electrical system, for example.

The goal of this year’s meeting is to provide federal and Western state CIOs and internet technology experts a forum for examining critical technology issues, among them, security, government operations over the Internet, data exchange and broadband connectivity.

Among the highlights of the meeting will be speeches from Utah Gov. Michael Leavitt, Wyoming Gov. Jim Geringer and Homeland Security Chief Information Officer Steve Cooper. Assistant U.S. Attorney General Deborah Daniels will discuss “Security and Justice in Times of Terrorism.” Roundtable forums will discuss the involvement of local agencies; and how emergency, health and public security can respond to crises. Technological discussion will revolve around encryption and broadband availability to remote locations.

Jane Stebbins can be reached at 668-3998 ext. 228 or jstebbins@summitdaily.com.


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