Cyberspace Thought Leaders Discuss Challenges Facing Nation's First 'Cyber Czar'

National Press Club event offers legislative, executive, and media viewpoints

June 25, 2009

3 Min Read


WASHINGTON, June 25 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Lack of real power, entrenched government bureaucracy and the ever-shifting paradigm of cyberspace are just a few of the challenges that may face the country's first Cybersecurity Coordinator, according to a panel of three nationally recognized cyber experts who spoke with reporters yesterday at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. A webcast of the entire program can be viewed at

Tom Davis, former U.S. Congressman from Virginia and now director of Federal Government Affairs for Deloitte LLP; James Bamford, award-winning journalist and best-selling cyberspace book author; and Dale Meyerrose, the first Senate-confirmed chief information officer for National Intelligence and a retired Major General (USAF), presented a variety of perspectives on what the nation's yet-unnamed 'cyber czar' will likely confront during his or her first 100 days.

"I think the administration has taken the appropriate first step," said Meyerrose, who is now vice president and general manager for the Cyberspace Solutions business at Harris Corporation. "They have acknowledged that the status quo is unacceptable and are setting priorities. The cyber security coordinator will have to address the issues of authority, accommodation within the existing process, and an agenda and then think big, start small, and scale up rapidly. That is the secret to success in a non-crisis environment."

Meyerrose cautioned against relying on old paradigms in defining and addressing the challenges posed by today's interconnected world. "In the cyber world, if it's connected, it's vulnerable; if it functions, it presents an attack thread. Anything that touches cyberspace is at risk."

Davis discussed the complexity of making progress within the existing government bureaucracy. "There are a lot of competing interests. Key questions will be how much authority the coordinator has and how they will deal with the stovepipes and with getting legislative initiatives through Congress, where everyone will want to have a say. It becomes very complex and it will be a tough job. I applaud them [the administration] for taking the first step."

Bamford struck a cautious note in his remarks, offering his opinion that the cyberspace coordinator position, as currently defined, lacks real power and budget, and might be overshadowed by the director of the National Security Agency (NSA), who heads the Pentagon's new Cyber Command to protect military networks.

"That would present quite a dilemma in terms of public civil liberties," he said. "I'd be much happier to see a very powerful person in charge of the cyber activity with a deputy from the civil liberties side of the spectrum. I also worry about the hype factor regarding vulnerabilities and would like to see the danger rhetoric toned down a bit."

Meyerrose also emphasized the importance of educating the American public about cyberspace. "Cyberspace underpins virtually every aspect of our lives these days, from large networks and grids for our government and commercial institutions to our ATM machines and the light switches on the wall. If you are on line, you are both a target and a threat. Priorities for cyber may become on par with our defense and intelligence missions."

A world leader in cyber security, Harris has been using state-of-the-art technology assessment techniques and architecture engineering for decades to define and operate secure networks supporting nationally critical programs. Harris currently supports three of the nation's largest secure networks, including the FAA Telecommunications Infrastructure, the National Reconnaissance Office network, and the Navy Marine Corps Intranet.

The company's technology countermeasures and monitoring capabilities proactively safeguard vital information assets supporting the missions of U.S. military, intelligence, transportation, and commerce customers. Harris recently expanded its cyber security capabilities with the acquisition of Crucial Security, Inc., a premier provider of cyberspace solutions for law enforcement and intelligence agencies.

About Harris Corporation

Harris is an international communications and information technology company serving government and commercial markets in more than 150 countries. Headquartered in Melbourne, Florida, the company has approximately $5 billion of annual revenue and 15,000 employees -- including nearly 7,000 engineers and scientists. Harris is dedicated to developing best-in-class assured communications(R) products, systems, and services. Additional information about Harris Corporation is available at

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