Cybersecurity role's hard to fill, Norman Augustine says

Cybersecurity role's hard to fill, Norman Augustine says

The role of cybersecurity czar belongs in the Homeland Security Department and requires an individual with unique skills, an elder statesman of government contracting says.

Norman Augustine, a former chairman of the board of Lockheed Martin Corp. and now a member of the Homeland Security Advisory Council, told GCN that cybersecurity is an 'extraordinarily important part of the overall mission' of DHS because it aligns so closely to other forms of infrastructure security.

'My personal belief is that it should be in DHS,' Augustine said, emphasizing that he was not speaking on behalf of the advisory council. 'The decision on its level in the organization should be left to the secretary. ' If you trust someone enough to run the department, you should trust him enough to organize it.'

The responsibilities and placement of the government's cybersecurity director'a job currently within DHS'has received a flurry of attention recently. A few weeks ago, a bill was introduced calling for moving the job from DHS to the Office of Management and Budget. The administration hastily squelched that provision. Then, lawmakers added language to the intelligence reform bill that would elevate the director position to the level of assistant secretary.

During this same period, Amit Yoran, director for almost exactly a year, resigned suddenly. His deputy, Andy Purdy, has been named acting director of DHS' National Cyber Security Division, and Howard Schmidt, a former director who left the position just before the formation of the department in April 2003, agreed to return as an adviser and to act as liaison to industry.

Augustine said that regardless of the job's place within the DHS hierarchy, it will take an unusual set of skills for the director to be successful'in part because the assignment includes plenty of responsibility but not much authority.

'One of the largest challenges this person will face stems from the fact that most of the assets in the cyberworld are owned by the private sector, [where] there are many motives besides security,' he said.

Augustine suggested that promising candidates could be found among the entrepreneurs who have built successful companies and taken early retirement and are now looking for a way to make a contribution. That Yoran fits that description pretty closely. He came to Homeland Security after starting a successful systems security business and had held cybersecurity posts at the Defense Department.

'A statesman who's a rocket scientist in this world' is needed for the job, he said. But finding someone with the necessary management skills, political sense and knowledge of policy workings, Augustine said, is hard, in part because industry pays so well.

But money is not the only obstacle to finding a new leader for government cybersecurity efforts, he said. 'We've done about as much as we can to make public service unattractive.'

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