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5/26/2009
12:40 PM
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Report: Obama To Announce Plans For Cybersecurity Czar This Week

President's announcement will be in conjunction with the release of the long-awaited cybersecurity review by Melissa Hathaway, according to Monday's Washington Post

Looks like speculation time is over: President Obama this week will announce his plans to name a cybersecurity czar who will head up security strategy for the nation's government and private networks, according to a published report.

The Washington Post today reported that sources close to the cybersecurity plan said Obama "signed off" on the plans for creating the new White House official position. As of last week, however, it was unclear what the actual title and rank the new position would hold, but the new security official would be able to "pick up the phone and contact the president directly, if need be," said one administration official in the article.

During the presidential campaign, Obama promised to make cybersecurity a top priority and to name a national adviser who would report to him.

The cybersecurity czar announcement will be in conjunction with the release of Melissa Hathaway's review evaluating the status of the government's cybersecurity policies and status, the article said. According to sources in the Post article, the report will recommend that regulation of private networks be "the last resort," and public-private partnerships are the best route for securing nongovernment networks and systems.

The sources said the report also pushes using the procurement process to drive stronger security, and talks about incentives for better data-sharing and risk management between federal and commercial organizations. It recommends that privacy be considered when implementing counterterrorism policies and laws, the sources said.

Meanwhile, Obama's new cybersecurity czar will likely be a member of the National Security Council -- reporting to the national security adviser and the White House's senior economic adviser, according to the sources.

But don't look for the report to spell out the role of the National Security Agency, according to the article, which has raised red flags among privacy advocates worried that the NSA would wield too much power.

The NSA director last month tried to quell privacy concerns about NSA's role: Lt. Gen. Keith Alexander, who is also chief of the Central Security Service, said he wanted to set the record straight that it won't be just the NSA or DHS that will oversee the nation's cybersecurity efforts. "We don't want to run cybersecurity for the U.S. government. That's a big job," Alexander said in his keynote address at the RSA Conference. "We need to have a partnership with others. DHS has a big role in it."

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Kelly Jackson Higgins is Executive Editor at DarkReading.com. 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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