Howard Schmidt to be Named Cyber-Security Adviser

As the Washington Post explains (via Slashdot), this appointment will fulfill Obama’s seven month old promise to bring on an adviser specifically to coordinate on issues of security as relates to computer and network infrastructure across the federal government. Schmidt at least has some prior experience, advising the George W. Bush administration.

Many have already commented on this White House post, noting that it is largely fang-less. At least the Washington Post sheds some light as to the possible reason, some disagreement about the org chart. Since the role is not just meant to work on government systems but includes in its purview overseeing the security of our national network infrastructure, I guess putting it under national security makes sense. However, a White House adviser also wants the so-called cyber-security czar to report to him as well, arguing that oversight of the network will also have ramifications for the nation’s economy.

Bruce Schneier pretty much sums it up, explaining why so many luminaries like himself and Gene Spafford would have turned down the appointment if they had been approached.  It really is puzzling that the mandate is so aggressive but the power to support it is utterly lacking. As Bruce says, perhaps Obama will rectify that once Schmidt is installed.

2 Replies to “Howard Schmidt to be Named Cyber-Security Adviser”

  1. Well, to be correct about it, neither Bruce nor I was ever contacted about taking the position or about suggesting anyone to fill it. This may or may not say something about the search itself. I do not know of anyone with a primarily cyber technology background who was contacted — only people with business and/or military backgrounds. This is another factor that made me believe that the view of this position is skewed in a direction that will limit its effectiveness.

    1. Thanks for the clarification, Spaf. I have updated the post accordingly. I guess I mistook people assuming that experts like you and Bruce would have been approached with that actually being the case. Given your correction plus Schmidt’s background at Microsoft, I’d tend to agree. I think it is interesting that some sources are only mentioning his experience advising Bush, not all of them are referring to his business experience, too.

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