You've probably heard the news by now-President Obama has appointed Howard Schmidt as the new Cyber Security Czar. I don't know what concerns me more: that it took the Administration since August to fill the position or that cyber security has been a low priority for the federal government for too many years.
I give Mr. Schmidt credit for understanding the importance of cyber security to our national well being and wanting to take an active role in combating this issue. Schmidt served as an advisor on cyber security to President Bush but, according the Washington Post, resigned that post, frustrated because he felt the position was not treated seriously enough.
In a November report by Ponemon Institute, the Cyber Security Mega Trends Study, 10 areas of security concerns were named, including cyber terrorism and outsourcing.
A report from the Homeland Security Newswire stated that cyber attacks against the military are expected to be up 60 percent from last year's total of 54,640, with most of those threats coming from China. In 2000, there were only 1400 such threats against the military.
In other words, the U.S. is long overdue for the White House to take a proactive stance on cyber security.
Schmidt has his work cut out for him, and I hope he'll take the advice of security experts who think Schmidt needs to come into the job with a solid agenda. As Robert Westervelt wrote at SearchSecurity.com:
"Before any progress can be measured, Schmidt needs to release a document outlining the goals he intends to achieve over the course of the Obama administration. The politics of Washington D.C. will be Schmidt's biggest challenge, but Schmidt has served in the White House and knows how to deal with it, Sachs said. An action plan will likely be dominated by domestic issues, including coordinating cybersecurity efforts within various government agencies and laying out a well defined plan for incident response."