New Cyber Security Czar Faces Huge Hurdles

December 26, 2009

Somewhat surprisingly, President Barack Obama has turned to the private sector to find a coordinator for cyber security in his administration. The man picked for the job is Howard A. Schmidt, a veteran in cyber security who counts Microsoft, eBay, FBI, and the Air Force among others as his former taskmasters. To top it all off he is a former military man as well. “Howard is a good march for this task,” said Vint Cerf, Google’s chief Internet evangelist. “I’ve been impressed by his consensus-building style. He’s thoughtful, knowledgeable, and he knows Washington.”

Schmidt has a tough task ahead of him though as he has to walk the tightrope of securing the government’s cyber system while balancing the interests and concerns of various federal agencies. His success in maintaining government cyber security will largely depend on the approach he takes to his new job. The push by the Obama administration and Congress to bring about a cyber security culture is not well received by American industry. The compromises that will take place to their privacy, transparency and communication infrastructure are the biggest issues. Whether Schmidt will choose toe the line or offer his own plan remains to be seen.

The new cyber “Czar” is placed directly under John Brennan, the chief of counterterrorism on the National Security Council. But according to a White House official “Schmidt will have regular access to the president, ensuring that the president is kept up to date on all key cyber security issues”.