Among the challenges President-elect Barack Obama will inherit when he is inaugurated on Jan. 20 is a national cyberinfrastructure under almost constant attack. But he and his administration will be receiving a good deal of assistance in that regard from the Commission on Cyber Security for the 44th Presidency, set up last October by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).
The CSIS, a bipartisan, nonprofit organization headquartered in Washington, D.C., provides strategic insights and policy solutions to decision-makers in government, international institutions and the private sector. Its Commission on Cyber Security for the 44th Presidency will offer recommendations to the 44th president on a comprehensive strategy for organizing and prioritizing efforts to secure America’s computer networks and critical infrastructure.
The nonpartisan task force is headed by Reps. Jim Langevin (D-R.I.) and Michael McCaul (R-Texas). It includes Scott Charney, Microsoft’s vice president for Trustworthy Computing, and Lieutenant General Harry D. Raduege Jr. (USAF, Ret), chairman of the Center for Network Innovation at Deloitte & Touche LLP.
Attendees of the SC World Congress, to be held Dec. 9 and 10 at the Javits Center in New York, will be offered a preview of the Commission’s recommendations during a panel presentation from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 9. Panelists include the co-chairmen of the commission, Langevin and McCaul, Raduege Jr., and Marcus Sachs, executive director for government affairs, national security policy at Verizon Communications.
“We have learned that a missing ingredient in cybersecurity for many government organizations is the very way the agency or department is organized,” Sachs said. “Most retain organizational structures reflecting industrial models developed in the early 20th century. We highly recommend that they be updated to a 21st century information-age model.”
Cybersecurity seemingly has not been a priority for past administrations. Though President Clinton signed Presidential Decision Directive No. 63, which required agencies to take steps to protect eight critical infrastructures, the administration failed to fund critical programs to push federal agencies to secure their systems.
And cybersecurity matters seemed to have fared even worse under the past administration. Some federal agencies improved their security operations once the Federal Information System Management Act of 2002 (FISMA) was initiated, but the administration appears to have been lax in its enforcement.
However, attention to these matters may be set to improve as Obama not only has an awareness of cybersecurity, but offers proposals and a strategy that would not only protect the nation’s computer networks, but also strengthen science and computer education programs. Cybersecurity would be made a top priority in his administration, Obama said during his campaign.
“Neither the government nor the private sector can secure cyberspace alone,” Sachs said. “We are recommending a new approach to the public/private partnership model.”
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