CSIA appoints Bennett president

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The Cyber Security Industry Alliance (CSIA) today named an international public policy expert as president of the information security industry's leading lobbying group.

Tim Bennett replaces Liz Gasster, who served as acting executive director since December 2006, as the organization's chief officer. Gasster, who succeeded three-year leader Paul Kurtz, will reassume her role as CSIA’s general counsel.

Bennett, 55, most recently served as chief operation officer and executive vice president of the American Electronics Association, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit trade group representing all branches of the technology industry. Prior to his lead role, he worked as senior vice president for international relations, regularly meeting with European Union (EU) and Chinese officials to discuss technology policy.

Bennett, who also served as vice president of a D.C. law office specializing in international trade, said his experience in working with foreign governments will benefit the CSIA. He said he does not have much information security experience, but stressed the topic's importance in international discussions.

"This is a global issue," he told SCMagazine.com today. "This is a fundamental issue that impacts the ability of the internet world to continue to grow and expand."

In fact, one of Bennett’s goals is to continue to promote security awareness and regulation through the CSIA’s European headquarters in Brussels, which opened last year. He said that "assuring a certain amount of harmonization" between U.S. and EU laws will help global organizations be more efficient and secure.

John Thompson, CEO of Symantec and CSIA chairman, said in an statement that Bennett’s experience with international policy makes him a strong fit for the job.

"This is a crucial year as more issues impacting the integrity and reliability of online information are being addressed within the realm of public policy," Thompson said. "Having Tim at the helm will be a huge advantage to the cybersecurity industry as we continue to educate and influence policymakers here and abroad."

Bennett this year is leading the CSIA’s long-standing push for a national data security law that would include a federal breach notification component, he said. In addition, he wants to see the federal government improve its own security posture after agencies received a combined C- on the latest Federal Information Security Management Act report card.

"This is of tremendous concern to our [17] member companies," he said. "We feel the federal government should be setting the national example in protecting data systems."

In her final week, Gasster publicly supported the President’s Identity Theft Task Force report, which called for increased enforcement powers and standards to curb ID theft, including the creation of the federal notification law.

But, Gasster said the CSIA was disappointed that the recommended law would only cover the private sector and not federal agencies.

Click here to email reporter Dan Kaplan.

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