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12/22/2010
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State Department Announces Cybersecurity Post

The position, planned before the recent WikiLeaks exposure, will report directly to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and work to prevent data breaches involving confidential diplomatic information.

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The U.S. State Department has created a new post aimed at coordinating agency cyber and cybersecurity efforts, including those that will protect confidential communication between the U.S. and other governments.

The department unveiled the new post in the First Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review, released this week.

The creation of the Office of the Coordinator for Cyber Issues was planned before the controversial publishing of 250,000 confidential U.S. diplomatic cables several weeks ago on the WikiLeaks website, officials said. Ostensibly, the new coordinator will help prevent such breaches and the international furor they cause in the future.

Indeed, cybersecurity in general has been a key focus for the Obama administration, and federal agencies are working across the board to develop better policies and technology to protect government networks. After WikiLeaks and then a host of international news agencies published the cables -- an event that's become known as Cablegate -- preventing data breaches caused by trusted government insiders has taken on new significance.

The new cyber coordinator is tasked with uniting disparate elements of the state department working on cyber issues to "more effectively advance U.S. cybersecurity and other cyber interests," according to the report.

The coordinator also will steer all of the department's global diplomatic engagement on cyber and cybersecurity issues. The as-yet-to-be named official also will act as the department's primary liaison to the president's cybersecurity coordinator and to other federal agencies as they move ahead with cybersecurity efforts.

State Department bureaus now must name representatives to work directly with the new cyber coordinator, which will reside in the office of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and report directly to her.

A new cyber advisory council, chaired by deputy secretary of state James B. Steinberg, will be in charge of guiding the work of the cyber coordinator. Other permanent members of the cyber advisory council are the under secretary for economic growth, energy, and the environment; the under secretary for arms control and international security; and the under secretary for management.

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