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.
Cyber-Attacks by Al Qaeda Feared (The Washington Post, Jun 27, 2002)
White House Pushing Cybersecurity Insurance (washingtonpost.com, Jun 27, 2002)
Related Documents and Resources On The Web (washingtonpost.com, May 16, 2003)
Key Players in U.S. Government's Cybersecurity Efforts (washingtonpost.com, May 16, 2003)
A Short History of Computer Viruses and Attacks (washingtonpost.com, Feb 14, 2003)
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
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.