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White House calls experts to address cyber attacks

Spurred by this week's widespread Web attack, President Clinton will gather experts, government officials and business leaders for an emergency Web security summit.

    Spurred by this week's widespread Web attack, President Clinton has rounded up experts, government officials and high-tech business leaders for an emergency Web security summit.

    The meeting, scheduled for Tuesday, will involve executives from some of the popular Web sites that were affected by this week's shutdown, such as eBay and Yahoo, as well representatives from 18 other companies including Cisco Systems, the White House said today.

    "The point is to address concerns currently felt by the federal government and private community," said Mark Kitchens, a White House spokesman.

    The meeting comes as federal law enforcement officials are still hunting for the culprits responsible for knocking out many of the top Web sites by swamping them with repeated hits, or requests for information.

    The sabotage didn't involve stealing credit card numbers or other sensitive information, but it did inconvenience millions of people and clog Internet traffic at some sites.

    At a press conference earlier this week, Department of Commerce Secretary William M. Daley called the activities a "wake-up call," saying that it "confirms what many of us have been saying for the past two years."

    Clinton last month sent Congress a budget request of $2 billion for government efforts to combat computer sabotage. The plan was a result of a study Clinton ordered that looked into ways of protecting U.S. computer systems from cyberterrorists. The money will be allocated at the end of this year and the beginning of 2001.

    Despite the hype surrounding the recent Web attacks, Clinton this morning warned that the government shouldn't overreact.

    "This is obviously an area that Shutdown
special report needs constant attention because things change so quickly," White House spokesman Joe Lockhart said at a press briefing today. "I think that's one of the reasons why Tuesday's meeting makes sense, because you have a lot of people who have a lot of real-time information about what's going on that can help."

    Clinton emphasized that "better defenses and better defenders" need to be developed.

    Attorney General Janet Reno, National Security Adviser Sandy Berger, Commerce Secretary Daley and other Clinton aides will join the discussions Tuesday.