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Obama Unveils Plans to Protect US Computers     

U.S. President Barack Obama is taking steps he says will better protect the safety of America's computer systems. The president will appoint a special assistant to oversee the cyber security efforts.

President Obama says the threat posed by computers is real. "Indeed, in today's world, acts of terror could come not only from a few extremists in suicide vests, but from a few keystrokes on the computer, a weapon of mass disruption" he said.

Mr. Obama said Friday the U.S. has for too long failed to adequately protect the security of its computer networks, and he laid out a plan to improve that security.

"From now on, our digital infrastructure, the networks and computers we depend on every day, will be treated as they should be, as a strategic national asset," he said.

As part of the plan, the president will soon name a special assistant in charge of protecting the nation's computer systems.

"I am creating a new office here at the White House, that will be led by the Cyber Security Coordinator," said Mr. Obama. "Because of the critical importance of this work, I will personally select this official. I will depend on this official in all maters relating to cyber security."

Mr. Obama's plan also includes a campaign to raise public awareness of the challenges and threats to cyber security.

The president said he had a personal experience with those threats. Hackers last year compromised the computer system of his presidential campaign.

"Hackers gained access to e-mails and a range of campaign files, from policy position papers to travel plans," said Mr. Obama. "We worked closely with the FBI and the Secret Service, and hired security consultants to restore the security of our systems. It was a powerful reminder."

Mr. Obama said the security of the names and financial information on contributors was protected.