Richard Clarke, former special assistant to the President for global affairs, recently spoke at a meeting of the New England Legal Foundation on the topic of cyber-security and what corporate lawyers can do to help their companies reduce the threat, and corresponding liability, from cyber-attacks and cyber-crime.
The potential problems include theft of intellectual property, identity theft, disruption of communication and data networks, and resulting liability to officers and directors.
Clarke, former national coordinator for security and counter-terrorism and special advisor to the President for cyber-security, said he believes that business corporations are highly vulnerable to attacks on their data systems and communications capabilities, and that terrorists view business companies as important targets, both for economic and symbolic reasons.
Clarke generated significant controversy earlier this year for his Congressional testimony and his book “Against All Enemies.” Clarke has been sharply critical of the Bush Administration’s efforts in combating terrorism, saying Bush ignored the threat of Al-Queda prior to 9/11 and then immediately attempted to link Al Queda to Saddam Hussein despite being told there was likely no connection.
James Andrew Lewis, senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, also spoke at the NELF meeting, saying the cyber-security threat is exaggerated. Lewis is a former member of the U.S. Foreign Service where he worked on a range of security, technology and intelligence issues including encryption and technology transfer issues with China and an assignment to the National Security Council.