CNN logo
Message Boards 

CNN Networks 

Quick News 
Video Vault 
News Quiz 

Pathfinder/Warner Bros

Barnes and Noble

Barnes and Noble


Heading off an 'electronic Pearl Harbor'

Executives from leading corporations attended the one-day conference on computer security at Georgia Tech  

CEOs, policy leaders discuss cyber-security at forum

April 6, 1998
Web posted at: 10:57 a.m. EDT (1457 GMT)

ATLANTA (CNN) -- Company executives from across the nation as well as national and state public policy officials were meeting Monday to discuss how to respond to mounting threats to information security, such as computer hacking and theft of computer-based data.

The one-day meeting at Georgia Tech, hosted by former U.S. Sen. Sam Nunn, was debating the need for more cooperation between the corporate world, academia and the federal government to prevent computer crime and data theft, which can not only cause companies to lose millions of dollars, but might also pose a threat to U.S. citizens in a wider sense.

Experts point out that U.S. infrastructure, such as water supply, telecommunications, transportation and financial systems, will increasingly be accessible -- and managed -- with the help of the Internet. And that could make them vulnerable to cyber-age attacks.


"There are some who believe we are going to have an electronic Pearl Harbor, so to speak, before we really make (computer security) the kind of priority that many of us believe it deserves to be," Nunn said.

Last year, the Pentagon alone recorded more than 250,000 break-in attempts by computer hackers, and in February, hackers succeeded in gaining access to the Pentagon's unclassified files.

Government agencies as well as businesses worldwide have reported increasing breaches of information security.

Statistics show that:

  • Nearly 80 percent of U.S. businesses have been victims of computer crimes.
  • 58 percent of Fortune 1000 companies have experienced computer break-ins.
  • 18 percent of that group suffered more than $1 million in losses.

"We hope to make the point that CEOs need to be personally engaged in information security as a strategic issue," said Peter Freeman, one of the organizers of the event and dean of Georgia Tech's College of Computing.

"I believe that it is important for CEOs and corporate boards to participate in establishing information security policy," he said, even if the cost for a company to protect its data is in the millions of dollars.

Correspondent Ann Kellan contributed to this report.


Related stories:

Related sites:

Note: Pages will open in a new browser window

External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive.

Infoseek search  


Watch Science & Technology Week on CNN for more sci-tech stories.

Message Boards Sound off on our
message boards & chat

Back to the top

© 1998 Cable News Network, Inc.
A Time Warner Company
All Rights Reserved.

Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.