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5/29/2009
01:08 PM
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Obama Announces White House Cybersecurity Position

Names that have been bandied about include acting White House cybersecurity chief Melissa Hathaway and Microsoft VP Scott Charney.

President Obama announced Friday the creation of a new cybersecurity coordinator who will orchestrate and integrate federal cybersecurity policies and agendas, though we'll have to wait to hear just who that official will be.

As national security and cybersecurity dignitaries looked on during a press conference with reporters to announce the results of a 60-day cybersecurity review he had ordered, Obama said he will personally select this new cybersecurity official, who will have regular access to him.

Cybersecurity has become an increasingly hot topic in government in recent months, with renewed efforts under way to overhaul outdated legislation and create new centralized and agency-led oversight. Attacks on government systems continue. On Thursday, reports emerged that a Turkish hacker had infiltrated military servers.

"America's digital infrastructure [is] the backbone that underpins a prosperous economy and a strong military and an open and efficient government," Obama said in his remarks. "It's the great irony of our Information Age -- the very technologies that empower us to create and to build also empower those who would disrupt and destroy."

The new cybersecurity coordinator will be responsible for directing government-wide cybersecurity policies as well as working with other levels of government and the private sector to keep computer networks safe, Obama said.

The official will be a member of both the national security staff and the national economic staff, and will have a team of employees, including an official dedicated to safeguarding digital privacy and civil liberties.

Lynn McNulty, a longtime government cybersecurity official who now serves on the board of directors for the governing body for the CISSP certification program, said it was about time the White House added a central authority on cybersecurity. "I think there needed to be some adult leadership here," McNulty said.

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