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Timeline: The U.S. Government and Cybersecurity

Compiled by washingtonpost.com
Friday, May 16, 2003; 10:55 AM

The federal government got its defining wakeup call about vulnerabilities facing the nation's IT systems in the years and months leading up to Jan. 1, 2000. Experts warned that the dreaded "Y2K Bug" would bring down networks and critical systems around the world. But governmental efforts to protect important information systems date ba ck several decades.

ca. 1977: The General Accounting Office recommends limiting the number of federal employees who can use a comput er as a way to prevent network security breaches.

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1977: Sen. Abraham A. Ribicoff (D-Conn.) introduces the Federal Computer Systems Protection Act, which seeks to define "computer crimes" and recommends penalties for such crimes. The bill does not pass.

1983: The FBI raids more than a dozen homes in six states, confiscating Telnet passwords, at least one Apple II+ , a modem and several other computers. An article in InfoWorld refers to an increase in hacker activity following the release of the popular film "WarGames," which portrayed a high school student who was able to hack into the computer system at the North American Defense Command in Colorado Springs, Colo.

1983: Congressman and future Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman (D-Kan.) calls for hearings to examine computer hackers after seven teenagers known collectively as the "414s" break into several government computers, including a nonclassified co mputer at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.

1983: Deputy Assistant FBI Director Floyd Clarke tells a House subcommittee that a computer can be used much like "a gun, a knife or a forger's pen," and urges new laws against hacking.

1987: President Ronald Reagan signs the Computer Security Act of 1987, an attempt to protect federal agencies' c omputer databases.

1988: The CERT Coordination Center is founded with money from the Defense Department's Defense Advanced Research Project Agency -- the same agency that developed the Internet's predecessor ARPANET i n the mid-1960s. CERT is a central reporting center for Internet security problems. It is part of the Networked System Survivability Program, and is located at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. CERT originally stood for "Computer Emergency Response Team."

July 1989: Following the release of the "Morris" worm that infected 600,000 computers, the General Accounting Office (GAO) says that the White House science adviser should be tasked with overseeing ef forts to prevent subsequent computer virus attacks.

July 1989: Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) drafts a bill that would make it a crime to author computer viruses.

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