While the National Communications System (NCS) has sponsored several valuable national-level programs to address the ability of the nation’s networks to support NSEP, the committee believes that there is a set of valid NSEP contingencies that fall outside the traditional view of NSEP and that need to be addressed. Because of the growing reliance of our information society on smoothly functioning telecommunications and information networks, NSEP concerns should include provision for reducing network vulnerabilities to broader economic and social dislocations arising from network disruptions.
Just how vulnerable our networks have become is illustrated by the experiences of 1988: There were three major switching center outages, a large fiber optic cable cut, and several widely reported invasions of information databases by so-called computer hackers. As we become more dependent on networks, the consequences of network failure become greater and the need to reduce network vulnerabilities increases commensurately.
The committee makes the following recommendations to reduce growing network vulnerabilities and thus provide adequate assurance that NSEP needs will be fully supported by the nation’s public switched networks.
Recommendation No. 1: Assure Sufficient National Level National Security Emergency Preparedness Resources
In light of society’s growing reliance on information and telecommunications networks and the resulting increase in risk to national security emergency preparedness, the National Security Council should review whether the resources available to the National Communications System are sufficient to permit it to fulfill its responsibilities for planning, implementing, and administering programs designed to decrease communications vulnerabilities for national security emergency preparedness users in an environment of proliferating public networks. (Chapter 4)
Government must be able to analyze what network features are necessary for national security. Government must also be able to implement plans and procure services pertinent to national security needs.