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Cybersecurity Chief Touts Private Sector Collaborations

Public-private partnerships are crucial to tackling Internet security challenges, says federal cybersecurity coordinator Howard Schmidt.




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The federal government is working more and more with the private sector to solve cybersecurity challenges, federal cybersecurity coordinator Howard Schmidt said Monday in a keynote address at a government conference.

"Cybersecurity isn't done in isolation," Schmidt said at the National Institute of Standards and Technology's (NIST) annual IT Security Automation conference. "Cybersecurity is not a government or academic responsibility, it's a shared responsibility. We're doing more than ever with the private sector."

He noted, for example, in conjunction with a draft cybersecurity report issued by the White House earlier this summer, the administration asked the private sector to look at ways to help develop an "identity ecosystem" in which Internet users would be more confident that their identity and bank account won't be stolen, and which users could opt into. "This is something that's not a government-run operation," he said. "It will create a private-public partnership like we've never had before."

Schmidt also said that the administration intends to place an increased emphasis on cybersecurity research and development. "We want to make sure we have a framework for research and development that takes into account not only the threats of the past 20 years, but looks to anticipate things moving forward," he said.

He noted two research and development initiatives already underway. "Moving Target," aims to develop technology that ensures if a vulnerability and exploit exists, it only works once on government networks. The other, "Tailored Trustworthy Spaces," intends to create highly trusted environments in the case of, say, online services like banking where trust is a requirement to assure visitors that the site is safe.

Work continues with critical infrastructure industries like the energy, manufacturing, and communications sectors as well. For example, those industries play roles in the National Cyber Incident Response Plan, which will be tested in a cybersecurity exercise to be held soon, and the Department of Homeland Security's Industrial Control Systems Joint Working Group is working on security issues involving industrial control systems.

Schmidt also gave updates on other key federal cybersecurity initiatives, noting that that the administration is working on updates to the Bush-era Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative and that the administration has a number of events and announcements planned for National Cyber Security Awareness Month in October.

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