By David Worthington | Friday, May 29, 2009 at 5:39 pm
Today, U.S. President Barack Obama took the wraps off of a 60-day review of the nation’s electronic infrastructure. The report outlined concrete steps towards achieving better security, called for the creation of a cyber security czar in the White House staff, and emphasized the importance of respecting people’s privacy.
In April, I wrote “Obama gets it,” in an article about how critical U.S.infrastructure was vulnerable to damage and disruption. While some of the details haven’t been shared yet, the initiative that the President announced today does chart the right course.
The report concludes that the federal government needs to its increase investment in achieving security and resiliency in information and communications infrastructures, and calls for a public-private partnership to coordinate responses to cyber attacks in addition to rallying international cooperation to mitigate security risks.
Another goal is to educate the public about the importance of cyber security, but with incidents such as the U.S Army being hacked in news headlines, reality has already helped there.
Obama’s plan mirrors a bipartisan effort that was championed by U.S. Senators John Rockefeller (D-W.V.) and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine). The bill that they proposed also called for a White House position to coordinate all Federal security efforts.
Rex Black, a well known security expert and president of Rex Black Consulting Services, told me that it was understandable that Obama would want someone to fill that role. The position should be staffed by the White House rather than the Commerce Department or Military due to the turf wars that would inevitably happen, he added.
The report strikes a political balance: New laws and mandates could come as a consequence, but the White House said that it would avoid imposing new requirements on the private sector if it could be avoided. Privacy was also mentioned more than 60 times in the report, and the President said unequivocally, “Our pursuit of cyber security will not–I repeat, will not include–monitoring private sector networks or Internet traffic.”
Overall, I am heartened by the high priority that Obama has placed this very serious problem so early on during his Presidency. He is giving credibility to the people that are trying to solve it, and that will only help drive towards a solution–even if we have to walk before we can run.