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3/26/2009
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Obama Cybersecurity Team Consults Rights Groups

Civil liberties, privacy, education, and public-private partnerships are at the forefront of the government's cybersecurity initiatives.

President Obama's cybersecurity team is working closely with civil liberties and privacy groups to make sure steps to secure the nation's computer infrastructure don't overstep the bounds of individual rights, two members of the House of Representatives said today.

In a press conference after meeting with Melissa Hathaway, acting senior director for cyberspace for the National Security and Homeland Security Councils, Rep. Yvette Clarke, D-N.Y., and Rep. James Langevin, D-R.I., said that they expected Hathaway to complete her 60-day review of the nation's cybersecurity within a month.

"Working with civil liberties groups will be at the forefront of how we do cybersecurity going forward," Langevin said. "It's a forethought rather than an afterthought, because we're going to have to have buy-in from the public." He added that he was pleased to hear Hathaway say that there needs to be a public education portion of any major cybersecurity initiative.

It's unclear exactly what kinds of recommendations Hathaway's report will make, but Langevin said he expects cybersecurity will be a multibillion-dollar effort going forward, and that there may be an increase in Office of Management and Budget staffing to manage oversight of the country's cybersecurity budget.

Langevin and Clarke said Hathaway is focusing partially on the need for much deeper public-private cooperation on cybersecurity, including a set of "expectations for the private sector" and a plan to develop some sort of road map for industry cooperation with government on cybersecurity.

As to how cybersecurity will be coordinated under the Obama administration, Langevin and Clarke were short on details, other than citing the need for an interagency action plan.


InformationWeek will highlight innovative government IT organizations in an upcoming issue. Nominate your agency by submitting an essay on your most innovative IT initiative completed in the last year. Find out more, and nominate your organization by May 1.

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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.