Risk
5/26/2009
04:27 PM
George V. Hulme
George V. Hulme
Commentary
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Cybersecurity Czar Announcement Imminent

President Obama is set to announce, sometime this week, that the post of a cyber czar will be created. So far, the news creates more questions than answers.

President Obama is set to announce, sometime this week, that the post of a cyber czar will be created. So far, the news creates more questions than answers.According to the Washington Post, the "cyber czar" will be:

a senior White House official who will have broad authority to develop strategy to protect the nation's government-run and private computer networks, according to people who have been briefed on the plan.

The adviser will have the most comprehensive mandate granted to such an official to date and will probably be a member of the National Security Council but will report to the national security adviser as well as the senior White House economic adviser, said the sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the deliberations are not final.

The encouraging news here is that the position will sit on the National Security Council. But reporting to the national security adviser as well as the senior White House economic advisor does not sound like a position with much authority. Neither does the fact, if this news report proves accurate, that the cyber czar will have "broad authority to develop strategy."

Having the White House develop IT infrastructure security policy and provide a level of governance across all of the agencies is welcomed news. It's slightly better than what we have now. Which is next to nothing in way of policy and co-ordination.

But where's the stick? How will agencies be held responsible to maintain an adequate level of security and disaster preparedness? Hopefully, we'll find out more details this week with the appointment of the czar, as well as the long-awaited 60-day review of the state of IT security from Melissa Hathaway.

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The cybersecurity profession struggles to retain women (figures range from 10 to 20 percent). It's particularly worrisome for an industry with a rapidly growing number of vacant positions.

So why does the shortage of women continue to be worse in security than in other IT sectors? How can men in infosec be better allies for women; and how can women be better allies for one another? What is the industry doing to fix the problem -- what's working, and what isn't?

Is this really a problem at all? Are the low numbers simply an indication that women do not want to be in cybersecurity, and is it possible that more women will never want to be in cybersecurity? How many women would we need to see in the industry to declare success?

Join Dark Reading senior editor Sara Peters and guests Angela Knox of Cloudmark, Barrett Sellers of Arbor Networks, Regina Wallace-Jones of Facebook, Steve Christey Coley of MITRE, and Chris Roosenraad of M3AAWG on Wednesday, July 13 at 1 p.m. Eastern Time to discuss all this and more.