Tag Archives | cyberterrorism

Obama Taps Former Bush Adviser to Fill Cybersecurity Post

The White House said Tuesday that it had appointed former Bush cybersecurity adviser Howard Schmidt as Obama’s new Chief of Cybersecurity. Schmidt would serve on the National Security staff, and would work closely with the President’s economic advisers to ensure efforts do not hinder economic progress.

“Howard is one of the world’s leading authorities on computer security, with some 40 years of experience in government, business and law enforcement,” Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Assistant to the President John Brennan said.

Obama is acting on a promise made in May when he announced the creation of the post. The Adminstration sees cybersecurity as vital to national security, and it makes sense: increasingly the country’s enemies are turning to digital means to launch their attacks.

The recent example of Iraqi insurgents hacking into our Predator drones is certainly a good example of why we need to get more serious with the threats we face in cyberspace.

With the appointment, the White House is also making an effort to get the citizenry to become proactive in keeping themselves secure. A few boilerplate suggestions have been posted to the White House blog.

“Cybersecurity matters to all of us – and it’s our shared responsibility to mitigate the threats in this space,” spokesperson Macon Phillips wrote.

Schmidt’s appointment is also seen as a compromise between factions who have debated the course the Administration should take. Some are worried that extra regulation could harm innovation, while others are looking for swift action to prevent future attacks.

Putting someone in with business and government experience makes sense. Schmidt had served in executive positions involving security at both eBay and Microsoft prior to his involvement with the Bush Administration. Thus, he will have experience with both sides of the argument and may be able to bring everyone together easier than a political hack or some business leader with no government experience could.

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US, Russia Begin Cyberwar Talks

In a sign that the two countries are attempting to avert some type of Cold War cyberwar-style, the US and Russia have entered into talks over military action in cyberspace according to the New York Times. With cyberweaponry becoming a reality and attacks on government computers increasing, news of such talks makes a lot of sense.

The two countries also plan to discuss Internet security, which obviously would be important to keeping government servers safer. Talks began last month, and continued publicly through a UN security conference held a few weeks ago in Geneva. There is disagreement on how it should be handled: the Russians think cybersecurity could best be dealt with through treaties, where the US says the nature of cyberspace requires a more fluid approach.

Russia says that the US is moving towards its position, however NYT sources say that is a mischaracterization. Either way, both sides acknowledge that there is movement which is a departure from the years of the Bush Administration.

Bush refused to talk to the Russians on the topic, and it probably had something to do with the fact that the US is one of the countries developing cyberweapons. The Russians have been insisting on a “cyberterrorism ban” however, which has been characterized by the US as a restriction of free speech. This could have been another reason why Bush and Co. would not talk.

While Russia is obviously nowhere near the superpower that it was in the days of the USSR, seeing the two sides sitting down on this topic is quite heartening. Cybercrime is on the rise, and its only a matter of time before our wars begin to be fought not only on the battlefield but on the Internet as well.

Those interested in waging war know that in our ever-more-connected society, attacking the Internet is a smart strategy. It is essential in my opinion that governments start working together in order to cut this off at the pass, which will have much greater benefits further down the road for sure.