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Progress Report on Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity Coordinator Howard Schmidt gives an update on progress since the release of the President’s Cyberspace Policy Review last year.

Today, I was honored to host an event at the White House with cybersecurity experts and discuss progress made by increased cybersecurity efforts across the administration. President Obama has recognized that the “cyber threat is one of the most serious economic and national security challenges we face as a nation” and “America's economic prosperity in the 21st century will depend on cybersecurity.” 

We were joined by a broad cross section of stakeholders from the Federal government, State and local government, law enforcement and private sector representatives from across multiple sectors of the economy, as well as representatives from academia and the privacy and civil liberties communities. The purpose was to draw attention to the efforts of these communities to reduce risk and build confidence in our critical information and communications infrastructure. 

In discussing the efforts the Nation has made to make cyberspace more secure, I highlighted the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace (NSTIC), which was recently released for public comment and the soon to be exercised National Cyber Incident Response Plan (NCIRP) as particularly important. Both the private and public sectors should do all they can to secure their parts of cyberspace.

Since the President’s speech last year and the release of the President’s Cyberspace Policy Review (pdf), the Administration has taken concrete steps to make cyberspace more secure.

We took the opportunity to release a progress report on our efforts. A few highlights from that report:

  • The National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace, recently released for public comment, is a plan for secure, voluntary, privacy-enhancing credentials that the public can choose to use to authenticate their identities in cyberspace more securely.
  • The National Cyber Incident Response Plan, which is being developed  by the Department of Homeland Security andwill be exercised as part of Cyber Storm 3 in September, will ensure that there is a coordinated national response to a significant cyber incident.
  • New performance metrics under the Federal Information Management Security Act (FISMA), moves us from static, paper-based reports to more efficient and more effective continuous monitoring.
  • The appointment of a Cybersecurity Coordinator and a privacy and civil liberties official, as provided in the Cyberspace Policy Review, and the release of documents outlining our cybersecurity initiatives to ensure greater transparency.

Emphasizing the cross-cutting elements of society and the economy that depend on cyber systems, I was pleased that Secretary of Commerce, Gary Locke, and Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, appeared at the event. Secretary Locke emphasized the Commerce Department’s efforts to facilitate the introduction of new security protocols into the Internet’s Domain Name System (DNS) infrastructure. Secretary Napolitano announced the winners of the National Cybersecurity Campaign Awareness Challenge, a competition intended to collect and share the most creative ideas for increasing public awareness of cybersecurity issues. She also highlighted recent key DHS accomplishments, including the development of NCIRP, which will ensure coordinated cyber preparedness and response among all national partners, as well as the deployment of EINSTEIN network intrusion detection technology to 12 of 19 federal agencies. In addition, a panel of representatives from specific sectors of the economy and privacy and civil liberties groups, outlined the specific activities they have underway in their companies and institutions to reduce cybersecurity risk and improve the trustworthiness of America’s cyber systems.

Of course, the real highlight came when the President stopped by to emphasize the increasing importance our society will place on digital communications and information infrastructure as we seek to unleash the potential of these new media. He emphasized the need for continued collaboration between the private sector and government, stating “that’s why we’re going to need all of you to keep coming together—government, industry, academia, think tanks, media and privacy and civil liberties groups—to work together, to develop the solutions we need to keep America safe and prosperous in cyberspace.”

Howard A. Schmidt is the Cybersecurity Coordinator and Special Assistant to the President