President Obama's cybersecurity plan released

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While campaigning, President Obama addressed the importance of cybersecurity.

On Wednesday, he made good on at least some of his promises when his administration posted to the White House website an outline for protecting the nation's homeland security. The strategy includes a six-step plan to safeguard information networks.

Among the federal government's goals around cybersecurity: Initiate increased research-and-development effort, increase collaboration with the private sector to establish new standards and appoint a cyber adviser who will report directly to Obama.

The section on the agenda dedicated to information security was designed to help create a blueprint for the construction of "a trustworthy and accountable cyber infrastructure that is resilient, protects America's competitive advantage and advances our national and homeland security."

Industry observers told SCMagazineUS.com on Thursday that the strategy hits on many of the points needed to accomplish this and effectively mirrors recommendations delivered in December from the Commission on Cybersecurity for the 44th Presidency.

“We feel like we have been heard and we are very hopeful that the implementation of the recommendations will be realized,” Tom Kellermann, vice president of security awareness at application security firm Core Security, told SCMagazineUS.com Thursday. “There's a lot of momentum in Washington right now. I see in the coming week's dramatic action to begin dealing with these issues."

The person appointed to the national cyber adviser role will be tasked with coordinating federal agency efforts and developing a national cyber policy, the strategy affirmed.

Research and development will be conducted to develop the next generation of secure computers and networking for national security applications, the agenda said. Industry and academia will help with the deployment of this software and hardware.

James Lewis, senior fellow at the research nonprofit Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), said the need to develop more sophisticated technology is urgent.

“This can't be a research project that pays off ten years from now,” he told SCMagazineUS.com.

Also included in the president's strategy: Federal leaders will work with industry and researchers to develop the systems needed to prevent corporate computer espionage of trade secrets and clandestine research-and-development plans.

Kellermann pointed to this agenda item as particularly important, saying criminals each year are stealing billions of dollars worth of national secrets, intellectual property and financial data from the United States, thereby compromising America's technology leadership.

“I am confident that [Obama's] statements on the first day in office show that that he's serious about this and it's not just a national security threat but an economic security threat,” Kellermann said.

The agenda also states that leaders will develop a cybercrime strategy that will include shutting down online payment transmission sites used to launder money for cybercriminals.

Finally, government will mandate standards for securing data across industries and require all companies to disclose breaches of personal information.

Khalid Kark, principal analyst at Forrester Research, told SCMagazineUS.com that these initiatives may help fast-track a federal data security law, versions of which have been held up in Congress for the past few years.
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