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Government forms cybersecurity unit

The Department of Homeland Security says it has created a new division to "protect the nation's critical infrastructure assets."

The Department of Homeland Security on Friday said it created a new division to address threats to the nation's technological infrastructure.

Called the National Cyber Security Division (NCSD), the 60-person unit is charged with addressing potential security breaches to private-sector and government computer systems. The division was created as part of President George W. Bush's National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace and the Homeland Security Act of 2002, and it will be run under the Department's Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection Directorate.

"Most businesses in this country are unable to segregate the cyberoperations from the physical aspects of their business because they operate interdependently," Department of Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said in a statement.

"This new division will be focused on the vitally important task of protecting the nation's cyberassets so that we may best protect the nation's critical infrastructure assets," he added.

NCSD's chief will be Robert Liscouski, the assistant secretary of Homeland Security for Infrastructure Protection. The division will be organized into three units to: identify risks and reduce vulnerabilities to government and private-sector computer systems; operate a Cyber Security Tracking, Analysis & Response Center to detect attacks to the Internet and alert the public; and develop education programs on security measures.

According to the NCSD, the division will build on existing capabilities from the former Critical Infrastructure Assurance Office, the National Infrastructure Protection Center, the Federal Computer Incident Response Center, and the National Communications System.

Computer industry group Business Software Alliance (BSA) immediately applauded the move.

"Study after study indicates we remain ill-prepared to defend against threats to our critical information networks--meaning a major virus or cyberattack could wreak havoc on our communications, transportation, utility, financial or other vital information infrastructure," said Robert Holleyman, CEO of BSA.

"We all have a responsibility to make this work," he said.