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[infowar.de] U.S. government to get cybersecurity chief
U.S. government to get cybersecurity chief
By Ted Bridis
May 25, 2003
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Bush administration plans to appoint a new
cybersecurity chief for the government inside the Homeland Security
Department, replacing a position once held by a special adviser to the
president. Industry leaders worry the new post won't be powerful
The move reflects an effort to appease frustrated technology
executives over what they consider a lack of White House attention to
hackers, cyberterror and other Internet threats. Officials have
outlined their intentions privately in recent weeks to lawmakers,
technology executives and lobbyists.
The new position, expected to be announced formally within two weeks,
is drawing early criticism over its placement deep inside the agency's
organizational chart. The nation's new cyberchief will be at least
three steps beneath Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge.
In Washington, where a bureaucrat's authority and budget depend
largely on proximity to power, some experts fear that could be a
"It won't work. It's not a senior enough position," said Richard
Clarke, Bush's top cyberspace adviser until he retired this year after
nearly three decades with the government. Clarke's deputy, Howard
Schmidt, resigned last month and accepted a job as chief information
security officer for eBay Inc.
"While it's not optimal having someone technically that low in the
pecking order, it's much better than the current situation," said
Harris Miller, head of the Information Technology Association of
America, a leading industry trade group. He said success at that level
of Washington's bureaucracy is "not mission impossible, it's just a
The plan is consistent with Ridge's unease over elevating
cyberconcerns above the security of airports, buildings, bridges and
pipelines. The agency currently lumps both those issues under its
Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection unit, one of four
directorates in Homeland Security.
"It's pretty difficult for many businesses and many economic assets in
this country to segregate the cyber side from the physical side
because how that company operates, how that community operates, is
interdependent," Ridge told lawmakers at a hearing this week.
The new cyberchief also will be responsible for carrying out the
dozens of recommendations in the administration's "National Strategy
to Secure Cyberspace," a set of proposals put together under Clarke
just before his departure.
That plan, completed in February, is drawing criticism because it
emphasizes voluntary measures to improve computer security for home
users, corporations, universities and government agencies.
"I don't think we have a plan," said Rep. Zoe Lofgren of California,
the senior Democrat on the Homeland Security subcommittee on
cybersecurity. "If we just take a look at that strategy, we're not
going to end up with the solutions we need. There's a sense among the
committee that there needs to be a little more meat."
The government privately acknowledges many of those criticisms. In a
previously undisclosed internal memorandum to Commerce Secretary Don
Evans, the head of the agency's Bureau of Industry and Security
described complaints from technology executives after meeting with
them in September in California.
The executives felt the government's plan was "not sufficiently strong
because many of the key recommendations had been `watered down' and
were not `mandatory,"' Undersecretary Kenneth Juster wrote. His
organization at the time included the U.S. Critical Infrastructure
Assurance Office, which has moved to Homeland Security. The Associated
Press obtained a copy of Juster's memo under the Freedom of
Officials are still looking for candidates for the new position, which
will be announced within the next two weeks. Clarke, now a private
consultant, cautioned that the administration will have a difficult
time convincing a prestigious cybersecurity expert to take the job.
Some others predicted that won't be a problem.
"Most folks if asked to do this would jump at the opportunity," said
Sunil Misra, chief security adviser at Unisys Corp.
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