Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.


09:46 AM
Connect Directly

Obama Names Cybersecurity Coordinator

Former Bush administration official and Microsoft security official Howard Schmidt is tapped to develop a federal cybersecurity strategy.

Intel Clarksdale

President Barack Obama greets his new White House Cybersecurity Chief, Howard A. Schmidt. Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson
(click for larger image)

Almost 7 months after President Obama announced he would personally select a new White House cybersecurity coordinator position to help orchestrate and integrate federal cybersecurity policies and agendas, the administration has finally named its man: former Bush administration official Howard Schmidt.

In a video posted on the White House website, Schmidt said that the President has directed him to focus on creating a new comprehensive cybersecurity strategy, developing a strategy to respond to future cyberincidents, strengthening public-private and international partnerships, pushing cybersecurity research and development and leading a cybersecurity awareness and education campaign.

“In our digital world, the information technologies we depend upon every day present us with both great opportunities and great danger,” Schmidt said in the video. “As president Obama has said, this cyberthreat represents one of the most serious economic and national security challenges we face as a nation. I’m committed to bringing all stakeholders together around a new comprehensive cyberstrategy that keeps Americans secure and prosperous.”

Schmidt, who was president and CEO of the Information Security Forum, a nonprofit cybersecurity research firm, immediately before his appointment, has had a long career in cybersecurity. He served as top security official for both Microsoft and eBay, did cybersecurity work for the FBI, and spent time as cyber adviser to the Bush administration. He has also recently been serving in advisory roles for a number of cybersecurity companies, including McAfee, PGP Corporation, and Fortify.

In an interview with InformationWeek earlier this year, Schmidt pointed to three cybersecurity areas which he believes need particular improvement: encryption, strong authentication, and secure software development. "You constantly hear about breach after breach," he bemoaned.

In that interview, Schmidt expressed mixed feelings about the state of the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) and pending cybersecurity legislation and applauded efforts to push for common architectures across government IT systems. "People treat government agencies as independent controls unto themselves," he said. "We’re all doing these individual architectures which are tremendously complex. Everything has to be done separately and managed separately and that’s the enemy of security."

Schmidt’s name had been being bandied around for months as the possible appointee, but sources have said that he was not necessarily the White House’s first choice. Several others turned down the job, and former assistant secretary of Defense Frank Kramer was seen as a recent front runner.

1 of 2
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Inside the Ransomware Campaigns Targeting Exchange Servers
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  4/2/2021
Beyond MITRE ATT&CK: The Case for a New Cyber Kill Chain
Rik Turner, Principal Analyst, Infrastructure Solutions, Omdia,  3/30/2021
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
2021 Top Enterprise IT Trends
We've identified the key trends that are poised to impact the IT landscape in 2021. Find out why they're important and how they will affect you today!
Flash Poll
How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
Recent breaches of third-party apps are driving many organizations to think harder about the security of their off-the-shelf software as they continue to move left in secure software development practices.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
PUBLISHED: 2021-04-13
A UXSS was discovered in the Thanos-Soft Cheetah Browser in Android 1.2.0 due to the inadequate filter of the intent scheme. This resulted in Cross-site scripting on the cheetah browser in any website.
PUBLISHED: 2021-04-13
The Motorola MH702x devices, prior to version, do not properly verify the server certificate during communication with the support server which could lead to the communication channel being accessible by an attacker.
PUBLISHED: 2021-04-13
A privilege escalation vulnerability in Lenovo Power Management Driver for Windows 10, prior to version, that could allow unauthorized access to the driver's device object.
PUBLISHED: 2021-04-13
A null pointer dereference vulnerability in Lenovo Power Management Driver for Windows 10, prior to version, that could cause systems to experience a blue screen error.
PUBLISHED: 2021-04-13
** REJECT ** DO NOT USE THIS CANDIDATE NUMBER. ConsultIDs: none. Reason: This candidate was withdrawn by its CNA. Notes: none.