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7/30/2009
03:47 PM
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DoD Official Says U.S. Needs Separate Cyberczar For Online Identity

Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Robert Lentz said a national leader is needed for reducing problems with anonymity on the Net

BLACK HAT USA -- LAS VEGAS -- A top Defense Department official today called for a second national cybersecurity czar dedicated to handling problems and risks associated with anonymity on the Internet.

Robert Lentz, who is the deputy assistant secretary of defense for cyber, identity, and information assurance in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense as well as the chief information assurance officer for DoD, in his keynote address here at Black Hat USA told attendees here that identity is at the heart of securing the Internet.

"In my opinion, there needs to be a cyberczar just for identity. Without that, we're going to be done," said Lentz, who said reducing anonymity is key to ensuring security and resiliency on the Net. He noted that reducing anonymity also will generate debate over "legitimate privacy concerns," too.

"We need a national leader focused on this important topic, which is without a doubt a foundation for this fragile ecosystem," he said.

The Obama administration plans to name an overall cybersecurity czar, but has not yet announced who that will be.

Lentz said the DoD's public key infrastructure (PKI), one of the largest in the world, is not easy to use. "One of our greatest challenges is and continues to be that it's still not easy to use," he says. "We have to continue to embrace that technology and help others deal with identity assurance and drive anonymity out of the Net as much as possible."

Other areas that need work, he said, are directory services and the integration of physical and logical security. "Directory services has been our Achilles heel since I've been here," he said. "We need to clean up directory content."

And authentication could be used to help unite physical and logical security, he said. Lentz said a good example of the rift here is that he has his PKI-based CAC card for computer access, but he needs a separate badge to get into the Pentagon. "And we need multi-factor authentication: we're ready to turn the corner in biometrics and we need to leverage it for both logical and physical access," he said.

"We need to deploy risk-based access control and the ability to authenticate ourselves to the Net [and in] the cloud," he said.

And educating the public about secure Internet practices is also crucial to ensuring the infrastructure is sound and resilient. It will require a culture change, he says, and a campaign akin to the "green" movement for security. "We need to have a culture change like with the green movement but focusing on cybersecurity," he says. "I think having a 'cyber-green' movement is something we can all rally around."

Have a comment on this story? Please click "Discuss" below. If you'd like to contact Dark Reading's editors directly, send us a message. Kelly Jackson Higgins is the Executive Editor of Dark Reading. She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise ... View Full Bio

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