Obama Administration Creates Cyber Czar to Secure IT Infrastructure
June 1, 2009 Timothy Prickett Morgan
It looks like the politicians have finally figured out how important–and how vulnerable–America’s digital infrastructure is. Last Friday, the Obama Administration said that it would be creating a “cyber czar” Cabinet-level position to help better secure government and private IT infrastructure. The edges between these, as you all know, has been blurred by the Big Gray Cloud, or the InterTubes, or whatever you want to call it. (OK, the Internet.)
In his remarks to the press, President Obama made his concern over security IT assets clear by coming clean on the fact that his presidential campaign had been hacked. “It’s no secret that my presidential campaign harnessed the Internet and technology to transform our politics,” Obama said in his statement announcing the formation of the cyber czar position. “What isn’t widely known is that during the general election hackers managed to penetrate our computer systems. To all of you who donated to our campaign, I want you to all rest assured, our fundraising Website was untouched. [Laughter.] So your confidential personal and financial information was protected. But between August and October, hackers gained access to emails and a range of campaign files, from policy position papers to travel plans. And we worked closely with the CIA, with the FBI, and the Secret Service, and hired security consultants to restore the security of our systems. It was a powerful reminder: In this Information Age, one of your greatest strengths–in our case, our ability to communicate to a wide range of supporters through the Internet–could also be one of your greatest vulnerabilities.”
(You can read President Obama’s full remarks at this link.)
Obama also admitted that thousands of U.S. military systems had been infected with malware through the use of thumb flash drives, and said that enough is enough. To that end, the National Security Council and the Homeland Security Council have been instructed to do a top-to-bottom review of Uncle Sam’s IT security and the information and communications networks on which the country depends for our lives and jobs. And he added that he would be personally picking the new Cybersecurity Coordinator, who will orchestrate IT security for Uncle Sam as well as interfacing with the Office of Management and Budget to make sure security doesn’t get back-burnered when cuts have to be made. The big goal is to get Federal and state governments as well as the public and private companies that run the zillions of nodes on the Internet to provide coordinated countermeasures to attacks on the Internet when they occur.