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CNN Today

White House Hosts Meeting on Cyber Security

Aired February 15, 2000 - 1:01 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Cyber sleuths investigating last week's hack attacks on some of the Internet's busiest sites are said to be very interested in "Coolio" and "mafiaboy." Those are the online names of two computer wizards, one American, the other Canadian, whose exploits have attracted the attention of security experts, federal agents and the royal Canadian Mounted Police. As you may recall, the so-called "denial of service" attacks overwhelmed such popular Web sites as CNN Interactive, Yahoo!, eBay and Amazon.com. They're believed to have been launched from high-powered computers at West Coast universities, which themselves had been hacked into.

It so happens the White House is hosting a meeting today on cyber security, and the guest list ranges from Silicon Valley executives to government officials to the hacker known as "Mudge."

CNN White House correspondent Major Garrett joins us now with more on all of this -- Major.

MAJOR GARRETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good afternoon, Natalie. Yes, as you said, the president is meeting as we speak in the Cabinet Room with 25 industry leaders. Some of them are from academia, some of them represent the largest Internet companies in the world. And there are also representatives from his own cabinet: Attorney General Janet Reno, National Security Adviser Samuel Berger, and Commerce Secretary William Daley.

The president is discussing with the assembled group not only what the government does to make sure it's secure, Pentagon-related and national security-related sites are secure, but also what the Internet community can do to better respond to these "denial of service" attacks that occurred last week. The president said last week's attacks are an alarm that the industry should respond to, but that it is no time to panic.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAM J. CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's a source of concern, but I don't think we should leave here with this vast sense of insecurity. We ought to leave here with a sense of confidence that this is a challenge that was entirely predictable. It's part of the price of the success of the Internet, and we're all determined to work together to meet it.

(END VIDEO CLIP) GARRETT: The president also said during the question and answer session before this meeting began that the Department of Justice and its FBI task force on the Internet shared with the Internet community some information in December and January alerting them to the possibility that there could be these "denial of service" attacks. The banking industry was well-capable to respond to those warnings from the Justice Department. Some in the industry were not, and the message the president wants to deliver today is those industries that didn't respond should take this as a warning call -- a warning signal, respond better so they can protect themselves and their customers in the future.

Major Garrett, reporting -- CNN, reporting live from the White House.

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