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Microsoft security chief Scott Charney is a leading candidate for the cybersecurity czar position, created by President Obama.  (Source: Microsoft)
President Obama will soon pick a candidate to lead our nation's cybersecurity efforts

Cybercrime, particularly attacks from foreign sources, is on the rise.  In the past month, many government systems and systems of government contractors have been penetrated by hackers from China or elsewhere.  Meanwhile petty cybercrime also remains a problem with malware, phishing, and botnets a lucrative business for some cyber-criminals.

Past exercises have shown the U.S. to have weak cyber-defenses, largely because of poor coordination between the organizations tasked with our government's security.  President George W. Bush and his successor President Barack Obama have set out to improve on this situation by allocating money to security and creating a new cybersecurity czar position to organize the fight.

Two leading candidates have emerged for this job.  The first is Scott Charney, head of Microsoft's cybersecurity division.  According to a source close to Mr. Charney, Mr. Charney says he won't take the job, however, the source believes that he would change his mind if pressed.  In the past Mr. Charney lead PricewaterhouseCoopers' cybercrime unit and before that he worked for the Justice Department's computer crime section.

The leading alternative is Paul Kurtz.  Mr. Kurtz served on the National Security Council under both President Clinton and President Bush.  He was a member of President Obama's transition team leading the cybersecurity efforts.

There are also a handful of other candidates that stand a shot.  Rep. Tom Davis, a moderate Virginia Republican; Sun Microsystems executive Susan Landau; Maureen Baginski, a veteran of the National Security Agency and Federal Bureau of Investigation; Frank Kramer, an assistant defense secretary under Clinton; Melissa Hathaway, who led a cybersecurity review for the president; and James Lewis of the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank, are all under consideration, says a source.

John Thompson, chairman of the board of Symantec Corp. who had previously been considered a front runner turned the position down.

One thing that adds to the difficulty of the efforts is that the exact role of the job and its authority (and jurisdiction) remains undefined.

Some candidates have already begun to criticize each other.  Mr. Lewis struck out at the corporate candidates, commenting, "Some guy from industry is going to write a national security strategy? No, they aren't. You don't just pick this up.  You need somebody who knows the national security game, who knows government and who knows about the technology."

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By SiliconAddict on 6/14/2009 4:55:46 PM , Rating: 1
You are making the assumption that each of those government agencies can easily talk to one another, which they can't. Love or hate the Department of Homeland Security it has allowed interdepartmental communication on a level that really has not happened before. In addition to that gathering the data from 2, 3 or more departments together in a manner that can be interpreted as a honest to god threat vs. an overreaction is also the DoHS job. For every thing you see on CNN there are probably dozens of credable threats that aren't publicized. They are the nervous system of the nation's security system that should have been around a long time ago.
The job this article is talking about is nothing more then facilitating the implementation of good practices and ensuring that its actually done vs cutting corners to save a money here cut a budget there. How is this any different then the Nuclear Regulatory Commission something that has been absolutely necessary to make sure that proper precautions are put in place. You call such things overkill. In none critical segments of government yes. You wouldn't need a Czar to oversee government spending on paper. But when it comes to securing our networks. Its damn obvious that the government branches left on their own aren't doing the job. What would you suggest. We continue to slap people on the hand over and over and over and over. Replacing people again and again and again and each time starting from scratch. (Because do you actually think someone new comes in and is up to speed in a week on what has been going on?) or is it to get someone who knows what they are doing to oversee everyone else so we get our shit up to a level that isn't an international joke? Seriously the number of new articles that have come out over the last 2 years about lost laptops (Because god knows security goes beyond just securing your servers.), hacker break ins is getting pathetic. Its time to try something new.

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