Bush administration to unveil cybersecurity initiative

The Bush administration is set to announce a cybersecurity initiative on Friday, prompting speculation by technology industry experts that officials will unveil the hierarchy of a new government office on the subject.

Robert Liscouski, assistant secretary for infrastructure protection at the Homeland Security Department, will host a roundtable to unveil the initiative, said David Wray, a department spokesman. Word of the event touched off talk that the White House has chosen a cybersecurity director who will be placed within Homeland Security, but Wray cautioned that the event would not be a "personnel announcement."

Sources close to the issue suggested that department officials are likely to announce the structure of the office, however. These people said Homeland Security will create a cybersecurity office within the information analysis and infrastructure protection directorate, and that the head of that office will report to either Liscouski or Frank Libutti, the directorate undersecretary.

The White House and Homeland Security have yet to select the person to fill the job, sources said. "They are still vetting the names of who they want to be cybersecurity czar," according to one industry source.

The move is intended to allay concerns expressed by the high-tech industry and critics on Capitol Hill that the Bush administration is not prioritizing the issue of cyber security. Industry experts said that whomever assumes leadership of the office must have the appropriate authority to execute effectively recommendations outlined in the national cybersecurity strategy, which the White House released in September.

Right now, "the Internet is being attacked," one source said, adding that "the people responsible for protecting the Internet have to be people recognized in the administration and the industry as credible and effective."

William Harrod, director of investigative response for TruSecure, an intelligence and security provider, said any role the federal government has in trying to bolster cyber security will require organizations to do it voluntarily, so a cybersecurity director has to have enough cachet within the administration to reach out to senior executives in the largest corporations and persuade them to follow the cybersecurity recommendations.

"It is really is going to require somebody at almost a Cabinet-level position to administer a brokering between the federal government and these organizations," he said.

He argued that the director needs both authority and a specific budget, noting that cybersecurity advisers in the Bush administration historically have lacked both.

Still, other industry sources said the anticipated announcement is a positive development.

"The fact that they've agreed to build an organization around implementing the national strategy, that it's to coordinate the cyber activities of the various offices within the department and to serve as the central point of contact for industry, that's what we've been asking for," the source said. "We're glad they're doing this."

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

    Download
  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

    Download
  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

    Download
  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

    Download
  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

    Download
  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

    Download
  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.