White House Web site makes case for cybersecurity

The White House packaged President Barack Obama’s cyber czar plans with features on whitehouse.gov that support the argument for a national cybersecurity policy.

In this report

Obama to revamp cybersecurity policy, will name cybersecurity coordinator

As Obama’s announcement was streamed live on the White House site and fed to many news sites, visitors could also read a blog item from Melissa Hathaway, the National Security Council’s cybersecurity chief, on the importance of online security. Visitors could link to the full Cyberspace Policy Review.

The page also features a video of public- and private-sector leaders discussing the need for better cybersecurity. That group includes Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano; William Pelgrin, director of cybersecurity for New York State; John Thompson, chief executive officer of Symantec; Leslie Harris, president and CEO of the Center for Democracy and Technology; and Jeanette Wing, assistant director for National Science Foundation's Computer and Information Science and Engineering Directorate.

CNN’s story on the announcement supported the White House's argument with Homeland Security Department figures that cyberattacks on government and private networks increased from 4,095 in 2005 to 72,065 in 2008.

But while the White House was making its case for stronger security, the New York Times cited doubts that the new cyber czar position would have enough power to override agency turf battles — such as whether the Pentagon or National Security Agency should lead in cyber warfare -- because the post will not report directly to the president. The cyber czar will report to the National Security Council and the National Economic Council.

Elsewhere, the U.K.-based Guardian speculated the Hathaway was a front-runner for the cyber czar job.

Today's announcement is seen as the civilian effort to complement the Pentagon's efforts to create a cyber command for defending against and waging cyber warfare.

About the Author

Kevin McCaney is editor of Defense Systems. Follow him on Twitter: @KevinMcCaney.

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