US cyber security coordinator Howard Schmidt details initiatives at RSA Conference

News by Dan Raywood

White House cyber security coordinator Howard Schmidt has detailed his initiatives for securing government and private industry networks.

White House cyber security coordinator Howard Schmidt has detailed his initiatives for securing US government and private industry networks.

Schmidt, who was appointed in December last year by President Obama, gave his first speech at the RSA exhibition in San Francisco.

In this keynote address he announced that the White House was releasing the ‘Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative' (CNCI), a plan for securing government and private industry networks that was first introduced in 2008 by then-President George W Bush.

This consists of 12 initiatives covering education; research and development; deployment of intrusion detection and prevention system sensors across the Federal enterprise; and development a multi-pronged approach for global supply chain risk management.

According to Dark Reading and BBC News, his priorities are the ‘resilience' of federal government networks and ensuring those networks are properly secured, and ensuring that private-sector partners also have sufficiently secured systems and networks.

He said: “We have to fully recognise the importance cyber security has in our lives. We must continue to seek out innovative new partnerships - not only within government, but also among industry, government and the American public.”

He also commented that ‘we cannot continue to go on the way we have been going and expect things to be different', and said that the US had to engage its partners, and engage with their private sectors as well.

He later posted an update on the Homeland Security blog, titled ‘transparent cyber security', in which he said that two themes were vital to the US's cyber security efforts: partnerships and transparency.

He said: “I am personally dedicated to ensuring that the Federal government's cyber security efforts are as transparent as possible. Transparency is particularly vital in areas, such as the CNCI, where there have been legitimate questions about sensitive topics like the role of the intelligence community in cyber security.

“Transparency provides the American people with the ability to partner with government and participate meaningfully in the discussion about how we can use the extraordinary resources and expertise of the intelligence community with proper oversight for the protection of privacy and civil liberties.”

Schmidt made reference to the Google/China incident in January. While not directly addressing the attacks, he said that the administration plans to address security across international boundaries.

He said: “We are looking at it from a government-to-government level. We are making sure the ones we're doing business with have military operations with, or security with, the mechanisms to focus on cyber security like we do."

In his blog update, he said: "We will not defeat our cyber adversaries because they are weakening, we will defeat them by becoming collectively stronger, through stronger technology, a stronger cadre of security professionals, and stronger partnerships.” 


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