President Clinton announced new efforts yesterday to combat "cyber-terrorism," including college scholarships to study ways to prevent people from using computers to create havoc.
His plan will include a $91 million spending request in the budget he proposes to Congress next month. Clinton called it "part of an overall $2 billion budget to help meet our security challenges" in high-tech areas.
"Our critical systems, from power structures to air traffic control, are connected and run by computers," the president told reporters at the White House. "We must make those systems more secure so that America can be more secure."
The president said his program would offer college scholarships to students in the field of computer security in exchange for their public service afterward. It also calls for a new Institute for Information Infrastructure Protection, which he said "will bring to bear the finest computer scientists and engineers" from the private sector, universities and other research facilities.
"There has never been a time like this in which we have the power to create knowledge and the power to create havoc, and both those powers rest in the same hands," Clinton said.
While thwarting would-be terrorists, he said, the government also must safeguard the privacy of individuals and businesses. "It is essential that we do not undermine liberty in the name of liberty," he said. "I hope that . . . we will work together to ensure that information technology will create unprecedented prosperity . . . in an atmosphere and environment that makes all Americans more secure."
The Clinton administration last summer unveiled a security network to guard government computer systems from hackers. It is to be fully operational by mid-2003.