By Max Stier
Dec 24, 2009
President Obama has finally named the first-ever White House
cybersecurity coordinator.an individual who now must focus government
efforts to better protect vulnerable computer networks from attack by
foreign nations, criminal intruders, hackers and terrorist
The new cybersecurity coordinator, Howard A. Schmidt, promises to
develop "a new cyber strategy that keeps America secure and prosperous".
To accomplish this goal, Schmidt will have to use the clout of the White
House to bring order to a governmentwide technology enterprise where no
single individual or federal agency has had the authority to set a clear
direction, settle turf battles or ensure accountability in an area that
is critical to America's national and economic security.
As he embarks on this difficult path, Schmidt would be wise to promptly
confront a crucial but often overlooked aspect of protecting the federal
digital networks - the serious shortage of highly skilled cybersecurity
professionals in government. Without building a sophisticated federal
cybersecurity workforce, we will never adequately secure the
government's computer networks and the military, intelligence and
confidential data that they hold.
The need for such talent is increasing every day. The Government
Accountability Office (GAO) reported in November that "pervasive and
sustained cyberattacks continue to pose a potentially devastating threat
to the systems and operations of the federal government". While security
incidents grew by more than 200 percent from fiscal year 2006 to fiscal
year 2008, the report concluded that the country is not optimally
prepared to protect itself from such attacks.
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