Howard Schmidt is leaving the White House

White House cybersecurity adviser Howard Schmidt has said he will resign from his government position.

Schmidt, who was vice chairman of the President's Critical Infrastructure Board under Richard Clarke and helped create the National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace, leaves during a massive reorganization of the government's national security apparatus.

'With the historic creation of the Department of Homeland Security, the transfer of many of the responsibilities from the Critical Infrastructure Protection Board and the release of the strategy, I have decided to retire after approximately 31 years of public service and return to the private sector,' Schmidt said in an April 21 e-mail.

Schmidt did not say what his plans were. He came to the White House from Microsoft Corp., where he had been chief security officer. The White House did not immediately respond to requests for information.

Schmidt's resignation comes at a time when the Bush administration has been criticized for a lack of leadership in IT security. Since the release of the national strategy in February, Clarke has resigned, the Critical Infrastructure Protection Board was dissolved and the focus of cybersecurity has shifted to HSD.

Robert Liscouski, a former CIA official and former director of information assurance for Coca-Cola Corp., has been named HSD assistant secretary for infrastructure protection. But Liscouski's position includes both physical and virtual infrastructure, and industry observers have complained that there is no White House or other high-ranking official charged exclusively with cybersecurity.

Schmidt had been left in limbo with the dissolution of the PCIPB. He reportedly had been seeking a position as adviser to HSD secretary Tom Ridge.

'There are many reasons to be sad about his leaving, but the biggest one is that he was the only person in the administration who had industry credentials in fighting cybercrime,' said Alan Paller, director of the SANS Institute of Bethesda, Md. 'He is going to be sorely missed. We hope Liscouski's credentials from Coke will be similar, but that remains to be seen.'

Before joining Microsoft, Schmidt was a supervisory agent and director of the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, where he established the government's first dedicated computer forensic lab. He also was a computer forensic specialist on the FBI's National Drug Intelligence Center and served on the Chandler, Ariz., Police Department.

'During the coming weeks, Liscouski and I will meet with various leaders in cybersecurity to ensure a smooth transfer of the projects in progress,' Schmidt said.

Schmidt said he would continue in information security in the private sector.

'It is the role of industry to take the lead in the implementation of the strategy' to secure cyberspace, he said.

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.


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