"It's now clear this cyberthreat is one of the most serious economic and national security challenges we face as a nation," Obama said. "It's also clear that we're not as prepared as we should be, as a government or as a country"
Obama's speech coincided with the release of the much anticipated 60-day review of federal government cybersecurity policies, headed by former Bush administration official Melissa Hathaway. The 76-page report outlines a new, comprehensive approach the government will undertake to secure cyberspace, including appointing a person to coordinate cybersecurity initiatives, expanding partnerships between the public and private sector, and investing in research and innovation, Obama said.
“From now on, our digital infrastructure -- the networks and computers we depend on every day -- will be treated as they should be: as a strategic national asset,” Obama said.
The new cybersecurity coordinator, to be selected by Obama, will give cybersecurity efforts the high-level focus needed, the president said. This individual will have regular access to the president and will work closely with the nation's chief technology officer, Aneesh Chopra, and its chief information officer, Vivek Kundra. In addition, the cybersecurity coordinator will be a member of the National Security Staff and the National Economic Council, Obama said.
Under the direction of the new cybersecurity coordinator, the White House cybersecurity office will be responsible for orchestrating and integrating all cybersecurity policies for the government, ensuring agency budgets are sufficient, and coordinating a response in the event of a cyberattack, Obama said.
Protecting the digital infrastructure will be a national security priority, the president said. The government will, “deter, prevent, detect, and defend against attacks and recover quickly from any disruptions or damage."
To do this, Obama laid out a five-part plan that includes developing a comprehensive strategy to secure America's digital networks and ensure coordination across government levels. Further, the government will work with state and local governments and the private sector to ensure an organized and unified response to future cyber incidents.
“Given the enormous damage that can be caused by even a single cyberattack, ad hoc responses will not do,” Obama said.
In addition, the government will strengthen public/private partnerships, and invest in research and development to “meet the digital challenges of our time.” And finally, the government will initiate a national campaign to promote cybersecurity awareness and digital literacy among Americans, Obama said.
"In short, America's economic prosperity in the 21st century will depend on cybersecurity," the president said.