Incident Response, Network Security, TDR

Microsoft’s Charney, congressmen to chair cybersecurity advisory commission for next president

Whether it's Hillary Clinton, Fred Thompson, Rudy Giuliani or Barack Obama -- or any of their competitors -- who is sworn in on Jan. 20, 2009, the next president of the United States will have a list of cybersecurity recommendations on their desk.

Reps. Jim Langevin, D-R.I., and Michael McCaul, D-Texas, announced this week the formation of the Commission on Cyber Security for the 44th Presidency, a group that, along with the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), will develop advice for the next administration on how to best secure cyberspace and the nation's critical infrastructure.

Jim Lewis, CSIS senior fellow, told today that he expects the group to recommend realistic policy changes.

“What we'd like is a nice package of implementations that are concrete and actionable,” he said. “What you get a lot of times are very academic recommendations or very ‘pie in the sky' recommendations, and we wanted people who have a realistic sense of what people can do.”

The panel will include more than 30 cybersecurity experts, including Scott Charney, corporate vice president for trustworthy computing at Microsoft, and retired U.S. Navy Adm. Bobby Inman, Lyndon B. Johnson National Policy chair at the University of Texas, Austin.

Charney and Inman will co-chair the group, along with Langevin and McCaul, the chairman and ranking member, respectively, of the U.S. House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Emerging Threats, Cyber Security and Science and Technology.

“As commerce and online communication have flourished, so have the challenges to cybersecurity. It is imperative that industry and government work together to take the steps necessary to secure the internet and critical infrastructures,” Charney said in a news release. “We need a holistic approach that includes technology, policy, vigilance in the public and private sectors and law enforcement.”

Marcus Sachs, executive director for government affairs and national security policy at Verizon, and director of the SANS Internet Storm Center, told today that he will serve on the commission, but members are not scheduled to see the agenda until later this month.

The group, which is scheduled to complete its work by December 2008, will create recommendations for infrastructure protection, software assurance and information security initiatives for both the private and public sectors.

McCaul told today that the country facesbroad and challenging cybersecurity issues, listing network intrusion by foreignentities, espionage, securing critical infrastructure and criminal hacking astop priorities.

“The CSIS, this is the same group that put together the IraqStudy Group, and we really have the top minds in the country in cybersecurityworking on this. We hope it will be of a similar stature as the Iraq StudyGroup Report,” he said. “Success to me would be to have a president that wouldembrace it and a Congress that would embrace it.”

Langevin, along with Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss, chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, grilled Scott Charbo, the Department of Homeland Security's chief information officer, on his department's cybersecurity standing, and asked Dale Klein, chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, to investigate what resembled a DoS attack on the Browns Ferry Unit 3 nuclear power facility in August 2006.

Langevin credited CSIS, a Washington, D.C.-based foreign policy think tank, for backing the commission.

“I commend CSIS for sponsoring this commission,” he said. “I believe the government, across all levels, is too complacent when it comes to protecting their digital assets, and this needs to change.”

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