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.