Cybersecurity expert Howard Schmidt returning to DHS

Cybersecurity expert Howard Schmidt returning to DHS

Howard Schmidt, a former Bush administration cybersecurity adviser, will return to government as a consultant to the Homeland Security Department.

DHS officials briefed congressional staff members yesterday about their plans to use Schmidt as an IT security adviser.

A DHS official familiar with the Capitol Hill briefing confirmed the plans. Schmidt will not be paid by DHS but by the Computer Emergency Readiness Team Coordination Center, a federally funded R&D center run by Carnegie Mellon University, the official said.

Schmidt, who left his White House post in April of last year just as Homeland Security officially opened its doors for business, had been cybersecurity adviser to President Bush.

At the Hill briefing, DHS said Schmidt would not be developing policy but 'working to foster good relations between DHS and the private sector in the area of cybersecurity,' the Homeland Security official said.

Schmidt arrives at a time when the department's systems security programs appear in disarray following Amit Yoran's unexpected resignation last week as DHS cybersecurity director.

When Schmidt left government service almost 18 months ago, he joined Internet retailer eBay Inc. as its vice president for security. He will remain in a part-time capacity with eBay, the DHS official said.

Schmidt first joined the government as vice chairman of the president's Critical Infrastructure Protection Board, serving under Richard Clarke, the country's first cybersecurity czar. When Clarke resigned in early 2003, Schmidt seemed his likely replacement and the choice to become the first cybersecurity chief at DHS.

Instead, he left the government barely two months after unveiling the first National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace.

In a related development, the Washington Post has reported that Andy Purdy, deputy cybersecurity director to Yoran, will act as interim director of the DHS National Cyber Security Division.

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