The White House is set to announce Howard Schmidt
as the nation's point man on cybersecurity, overseeing both the
military and civilian worlds. Schmidt, who comes at the recommendation
of National Economic Council Director Larry Summers, has worked in the
technology industry as well as in the George W. Bush administration,
where he was also a cybersecurity official. In his new post, Schmidt will
join the national security council. Cybersecurity watchers insist that
both Schmidt's job and the threat he will fight are more important than
most people appreciate. If they're correct, Schmidt will have to work
to get what he needs.
- Schmidt's Challenge Ahead The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder explains why "Cyber power and cyber threats are among the most worrisome -- and least
discussed -- threats to security, Obama administration officials
believe." He writes, "Over the next several years, the administration and Congress want to
build a cyber security culture that requires the acquiescence of
American industry to a new balance between privacy, profit and the
transparency and security of their communication infrastructure.
Business groups are skeptical of legislation to codify the government's
power to shut down threatened computer networks and to give them the
legal authority to monitor the private "dot.com" domain for threats."
- Why It Took So Long The New York Times's John Markoff traces the months-long delay in Schmidt's appointment. "The administration's decision to appoint Mr. Schmidt was slowed by a
tug of war among political, military, intelligence and business
interests, said people with direct knowledge of the selection process.
Industry officials, for example, have expressed concern that new
regulations would dampen innovation." He says White House officials cite "a
range of initiatives now under way at various agencies to improve
cybersecurity. In November the White House met with a Russian
delegation of cybersecurity officials in an effort to build cooperation
on international law enforcement issues."
- Balancing Gov't And Industry Associated Press reporter Lolita Baldor notes
the political challenge. "Corporate computer security leaders have
frustration with the White House as movement on the job post stalled
and questioned the administration's claims that the issue is a
priority. At the same time, cyber experts and potential job candidates
complained that the position -- which will report to both the National
Security Council and the National Economic Council -- lacks the
budgetary and policy making authority needed to be successful."
- Will Schmidt Have Access? TechPresident's Nancy Scola points out that Schmidt "has experience working both in government and the private sector, with
stints at places like the Commerce Department, eBay, the FBI,
Microsoft, and the Air Force under his belt, and while the considerable
challenges facing the Obama Administration point person on
cybersecurity fall outside our purview here, it's worth noting that
what watchers are looking for are signs indicating how much
institutional authority and access to the President that Schmidt will
have from his post on the National Security Council. Cybersecurity is
one aspect of our modern technological landscape where it matters a
great deal whether politicians truly appreciate the current state of
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