President Barack Obama identifies five priority areas for the new cybersecurity coordinator Howard Schmidt, as he is greeted with a positive response

News by Dan Raywood

Five key areas are to be addressed by Howard Schmidt as he begins his new job as the cybersecurity coordinator to the White House.

Five key areas are to be addressed by Howard Schmidt as he begins his new job as the cybersecurity coordinator to the White House.

In a video address, Schmidt said he was honoured to have been selected by President Obama and said that daily dependence on information technologies ‘present us with great opportunity and great danger'.

He said: “Our lives have been enriched with technologies that are now part of the very fabric of our day to day lives, our dependence on these wonderful technologies continue to increase with each innovation as does our responsibility to protect our security and our privacy.

“Indeed as President Obama has said, this cyberthreat represents one of the most serious economic and national security challenges we face as a nation. As such I look forward to working with our leadership from Congress, industry, federal departments and agencies, state local and tribal governments as well as our international partners to ensure that our economic and national security interests are enhanced with our combined cybersecurity efforts.”

Schmidt further claimed that Obama had directed him to focus on several priority areas. He said these were; 'developing a new comprehensive strategy to secure American networks; ensuring a organised unified response to future cyber incidents; strengthening public/private partnerships here at home and international partnerships with allies and partners; promoting research and development of the next generation of technologies and leading a national campaign to promote cybersecurity awareness and education'.

Schmidt said: “Ultimately not the government, not the private sector, not individual citizens can keep us safe and strong alone - when it comes to cybersecurity our vulnerability is shared. And so it is our responsibility to ensure that our networks are secure, trustworthy and resilient.”

There has been an overall positive response to Schmidt's appointment, which was correctly predicted by SC Magazine yesterday.

W. Hord Tipton, executive director for (ISC)2, for whom Schmidt has served as a board member since 2004, as security strategist by the board of directors in 2008 and as vice chairperson of the board in 2009, congratulated Schmidt on his appointment.

Tipton said: “We congratulate Howard on this great honour and fully support the administration in its choice. (ISC)² has worked together with Howard on many important global and national information security workforce initiatives throughout the years and have always valued his insight and counsel.

“We look forward to working with Howard in his new role as he undertakes the critical task of developing the government and national information security workforce program.”

Daniel Turner, CTO of Vistorm, said: “In trying to solve really big problems we have to respond with the really great minds of our age – Howard Schmidt is one of those minds. The appointment of Howard Schmidt as the White House's Cyber Security lead further demonstrates the importance placed behind protection for business and Government bodies globally from cyberthreats. Schmidt will deliver vast experience and a wealth of knowledge following a similar appointment during the Bush administration.”

Amrit Williams, CTO of BigFix, said: “After what few probably realise was a tremendous amount of political posturing President Obama has finally appointed Howard Schmidt as US cybersecurity coordinator. I have worked with Howard and know him to be a highly competent individual that will have a positive impact on this administrations cybersecurity efforts.”

He commented on a ‘mixed reaction to the appointment', stating that some are pointing to a lack of progress from previous administration attempts towards cybersecurity, of which Schmidt had been involved, while others point to a general lack of clear direction by the President.

Williams said: “I would caution those that are quick to criticise that change takes time and this administration is working under a very different set of dynamics than previous administrations. I would also suggest that all concerned become involved and help to shape the future of our country.

“This is a positive move that will enable our government to better understand information security, its impact on our future, and hopefully drive the nation to implement and adopt more effective means for securing our critical infrastructure.”

Finally Secure Channel blogger Larry Walsh, said: “While many technology pros welcomed internet security being made a priority by the Obama administration, many in the private sectored worried that the appointment of a Washington bureaucrat would bring many stringent and complicated regulations.

“The selection of Schmidt, known as an altruistic consensus builder, signals that the Obama administration will treat cybersecurity holistically and with the consultation of the private sector. It's a wise move, considering that much of the nation's critical digital assets - telecommunications, banking and finance, energy distribution, transportation - rests in the hands of the private sector.”


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