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News

Comment on the need for new approach to US government cyber security

Cyber Secure Institute : 01 June, 2009  (Company News)
The Cyber Secure Institute backs the US government decision to make cybersecurity of national infrastructure a priority
Rob Housman, the Executive Director of the Cyber Secure Institute, has made the following comments concerning President Obama's announcements on cybersecurity.

Housman said, "The President today demonstrated an unprecedented level of commitment to the nation's cyber security. Most importantly, the President stressed that the status quo, the unending hack and patch, is no longer acceptable. That single understanding, that single statement, is vital to achieving real cybersecurity. The Institute strongly supports the President's view that a new approach is necessary."

Housman went on to say, "As the President himself noted, so much of his agenda for the nation's progress—from e-Health to a smart energy grid—is premised on advanced information technologies. Effective cybersecurity is critical to the President's ability to make progress in all these areas. However, too many of our systems today are inherently insecure—we simply cannot rely on them if we are to make these leaps ahead. We must require that critical cybersecurity systems need to be highly resilient and fully secure. While the President stressed that the government won't dictate security requirements to industry, at the end of the day, the government will need to use a variety of tools—from incentives to requirements—to drive change or else the status quo will remain."

Housman, who served as Assistant Director for Strategic Planning in the White House Drug Czar's Office under President Clinton, also noted, "Having served in a White House Czar Office, it is my view that the cross-cutting nature of cyber security requires a White House czar to coordinate efforts across the government and with the private sector. As the President emphasized, to date no one is in charge, and that all but guarantees inadequacy of response. The President has taken a major step to change that."

He went on to say, "However, the key will be just how 'in charge' this new czar will be. Will the Cyber Czar have direct access? Will the Czar have a high enough profile to command the bully pulpit? Will the Czar have unfettered access to the bully pulpit? Will the office have adequate staff and budget? Beyond developing a strategy what sorts of real powers and authorities will he or she have? Or will the Czar be limited to the power of persuasion? One reason the Drug Czar office had an impact was it had broad budget review power over the federal agencies. Will the Cyber Czar have that sort of power?"

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