A year later, still no cybersecurity czar

Jul 20, 2006

Just over a year after the Department of Homeland Security announced it would create a position for a cybersecurity czar, the Cyber Security Industry Alliance is lobbying for DHS to finally install someone into the job.

One year ago last week Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff announced that an assistant secretary for cybersecurity and telecommunications was in the works. The position still remains vacant.

Paul Kurtz, executive director of the CSIA, said that Hurricane Katrina and other issues have pushed cybersecurity out of the forefront at the Homeland Security Department.

"My belief given the passing of time is that this is just unfortunately not a priority for the leadership at the Department," he said. "It's reasonable for some delay in light of Katrina."

While the hurricane and ensuing problems in the gulf coast took attention away, they should actually be reasons for more focus on communications security, Kurtz said.

"Katrina demonstrated the absolute importance of having communication structures that can work under duress," he said.

Strong telecommunication security is something that will help minimize problems in all types of major security issues, he added.

Though it's unclear who Homeland Security is looking at to fill the position, Kurtz suggested that experience in bureaucratic as well as corporate situations would be helpful.

"Ideally it would be a person who has a mix of government and private sector experience," he said.

For someone with both types of experience, "the learning curve would be less," he added.

No matter who it is, though, Kurtz said, Homeland Security needs to choose a candidate that has the backing of the White House as well.

"Then we'd have an individual who can easily negotiate across agencies," he said.

Kurtz said there's been a series of cybersecurity issues in the news, but none have caught enough attention to accelerate the Homeland Security Department's process.

"I hope it doesn't take a big event for the Department to focus on the issue," he said. "There's been a number of things that have happened that underscore the need" for the position to be filled.

Kurtz noted that computer-security company MacAfee has kept a database of computer exploits on file for 18 years. In the last two years, the size of the database has doubled from 100,000 to 200,000 security incidents, he said.

"It's not as though it's getting any better," he said.

Business Roundtable, an association of chief executive officers of major U.S. companies, recently compiled a report on America's cyberterrorism preparedness.

Their conclusion read, in part, "The lack of national policy on Internet reconstitution could undermine the economy and the security of the nation."

"The report basically said, 'we are not ready,'" Kurtz said.

He said that the report's concern is valid, and is something that the government must address.

"Katrina taught us that if government is not ready and communication breaks down, the effects of an event can be greatly exacerbated for citizens," he said.

If nothing is done soon, Kurtz said, "there will be a significant disruption, and when it happens we won't be ready."

Outside of a large-scale disaster, the best way to get Homeland Security to focus on cybersecurity is to publicize the position's vacancy.

"When they put their mind to it, it will happen fast," he said. "The only way we're going to get this done sooner than later is by concentrated pressure."

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

Explore further: Snapchat to show content from big media brands

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Obama to push for new cybersecurity legislation

Jan 13, 2015

President Barack Obama on Tuesday will renew his call for Congress to pass cybersecurity legislation, including a proposal that encourages companies to share threat information with the government and protects them from potential ...

US did not 'hack back' against North Korea

Jan 09, 2015

The U.S. government was not responsible for sustained electronic attacks that crippled North Korea's Internet infrastructure last month, just after President Barack Obama promised that his administration ...

First responders get mobile app for biodetection

Jan 09, 2015

First responders have downloaded more than 10,000 copies of a guide to commercially available, hand-portable biodetection technologies created to help them determine what they might be up against in the field. ...

Hackers test, teach computer pros at Cyber Range

Jan 07, 2015

You won't find this town on a map, but it's a very scary place. In Alphaville, a virtual town used for cyber security training, the banks are robbed on a regular basis, the power plant and water system are under constant ...

Recommended for you

Spotify to replace Sony streaming music service

4 hours ago

Swedish music streamer Spotify will provide the soundtrack for Sony devices, the companies said Wednesday, spelling the end to the streaming music service from the Japanese tech giant that invented the Walkman.

War against IS group spreads to Twitter: expert

6 hours ago

The fight against Islamic State jihadists is taking place online as well on the battlefield, with 18,000 Twitter accounts linked to the group suspended in recent months, according to a US expert.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.