Various media reports have claimed that Howard Schmidt, president of the Information Security Forum (ISF), is to be named as President Obama's cybersecurity coordinator today.
The Guardian claimed that he will be given responsibility for overseeing the online defences provided by the Pentagon and intelligence agencies, while the Washington Post claimed that Schmidt was chosen after a long process in which dozens of people were sounded out but many declined the post, largely out of concern that the job conferred much responsibility with little true authority.
His appointment has also been unofficially confirmed by Reuters and the Associated Press, with the latter claiming that Obama will make the announcement today, according to a senior White House official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the decision had not been made public yet.
The New York Times said that Schmidt will report to the National Security Council - not both to the council and to the National Economic Council, as previously planned. The official said that Schmidt will ‘have regular access to the President'.
The official also said that Obama was personally involved in the selection process and chose Schmidt because of his unique background and skills.
Neil Fisher, VP global security solutions at Unisys welcomed the appointment. He said: “At a time when our vulnerability to online crime and computer hacking attacks is at its height, this appointment will have positive reverberations around the world.
“Howard Schmidt brings with him important lessons learnt during the dot com boom (and subsequent bust), which have been largely forgotten by other cyber ambassadors, to our detriment.
“While this appointment will beckon Schmidt back to the US, the UK will benefit from a more joined up, coordinated cybersecurity strategy, in recognition of the borderless nature of the cyber threat leveled at our governments, industries and public.”
Schmidt is due be speaking at some of the Information Security Leaders event next year, which are sponsored by SC Magazine.
He was appointed by George W. Bush as the vice chair of the President's critical infrastructure protection board and as the special adviser for cyberspace security for the White House in December 2001 and left in May 2003.
After time in the US military including three tours of duty in Vietnam, he served on a SWAT team in Arizona and worked with the FBI at the National Drug Intelligence Center.
He subsequently worked as the director of information security, chief information security officer and chief security officer at Microsoft and was chief security strategist for the US CERT Partners Program for the National Cyber Security Division through Carnegie Mellon University, in support of the Department of Homeland Security.
He also served as an augmented member to the President's Committee of Advisors on Science and Technology in the formation of an Institute for Information Infrastructure Protection.
Schmidt is a CISSP and CISM and a professor of practice at the Georgia Institute of Technology's GTISC, professor of research at Idaho State University, adjunct distinguished fellow with Carnegie Mellon's CyLab and a distinguished fellow with the Ponemon Institute.