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Cybersecurity Review Finds U.S. Networks 'Not Secure'

The report dovetails with President Obama's call for the creation of a cybersecurity coordinator who will orchestrate and integrate federal cybersecurity policies and agendas.
Hathaway's report addresses that concern, calling for White House leadership rather than delegating the task to the military or an intelligence agency. It also emphasizes the need to consider privacy and civil liberties interests as cyberspace policies are formulated and enacted.

The report calls for:

  • The appointment of a cybersecurity policy official with dual roles in the NSC and the National Economic Council who will oversee national cybersecurity policies and initiatives.

  • The development of an updated national strategy to defend cyber-infrastructure.

  • Making cybersecurity a presidential priority and establish performance metrics.

  • Appointing an official in charge of privacy and civil liberties issues to the NSC cybersecurity directorate.

  • Ensure that policies and legal rules are in place to allow cybersecurity issues to be dealt with across government agencies.

  • Launch a cybersecurity public-awareness and education campaign.

  • Develop government positions and international relationships to promote international cybersecurity.

  • Develop a cybersecurity incident response plan.

  • Develop a White House-led process to promote new cybersecurity technologies.

  • Work toward an identity management system in cyberspace that addresses privacy and civil liberties interests.

Patricia Titus, chief information security officer at Unisys, the first CISO at the NSA, and a contributor to the CSIS report last year, said she was very encouraged by the report. Through Hathaway's report contains no real surprises, she said, the call for presidential attention to cybersecurity is essential. "If you can't get attention from your executives, you can't be success," she said.

Other security industry executives, like Symantec president and CEO Enrique Salem, echoed that sentiment.

Though Obama was critical of the Bush administration's cybersecurity efforts during his campaign last year, Titus credits the previous administration with laying a foundation, through initiatives like the Federal Information Security Management Act, that will support the current administration's efforts. She lauded the report for building on previous cybersecurity efforts. "When it comes to IT security, you can't stop and start over again," she said. "It's got to be continuous."

Acknowledging that there's contention about whether cybersecurity risks are exaggerated, she said that better information sharing is necessary to help officials and the public make informed decisions about cybersecurity policy. "Information needs to flow more freely," she said, echoing recent government reports on information sharing. "There's not much we can do in the industry about threats if we don't know what they are."

She agreed with the report's recommendation to better educate the public about cybersecurity issues.

A consequence of education, however, may be responsibility, particularly for businesses. The report suggests that a possible incentive to improve the situation might be "increased liability for the consequences of poor security."


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