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No Government Fix for ‘Fake Secure’ Sites

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It’s a scary scenario in today’s cyber world, where all kinds of transactions are made with the click of a mouse. The site you think you’re on — where perhaps you have entered bank account information or a Social Security number — is not actually what it claims to be.

They’re known as fake secure sites, spoofs of legitimate sites designed to steal personal information. And the government is powerless to protect Internet users from them, one of the Obama administration’s top technology officers said, according to a FierceGovernmentIT report.

“Government can’t fix it and government shouldn’t fix it,” said Andrew McLaughlin, White House deputy chief technology officer for Internet policy, at a discussion on cybersecurity and e-commerce at the New America Foundation.

McLaughlin, who used to work for Google, said the public should not expect the government to “waltz in with a thunder set of regulations, or some kind of rule set perpetrated down through the system by an authority–it’s just not going to happen.”

McLaughlin’s emphatic response is likely because of the thorny issues surrounding any solution for fake secure sites, or what he described as the “multijurisdictional and multi-stakeholder nature of the problem,” according to a report on Nextgov.

“Increasingly, all parties involved in online dealings rely on information from companies and countries with Internet policies that are beyond the federal government’s jurisdiction,” Nextgov reports.

Internet browsers are one of those stakeholders. But according to Google engineer Adam Langley, who was at the discussion, users often ignore browser security settings, Nextgov reports.

Meanwhile, McLaughlin remained skeptical a government fix was the answer to the problem.

“You don’t want government to try to be your front line,” he said, according to FierceGovernmentIT. “We have a history of screwing things up. Even if it were possible, there are good reasons for government not to try to dictate solutions here.”

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