Obama selects tech veteran for top cybersecurity post

Howard Schmidt was named as the White House’s cybersecurity coordinator, today, a job that was reportedly difficult to fill as the U.S. strengthens its computer security defense.

The appointment marks a return to government for Schmidt, who left his job as vice chairman of former President George W. Bush’s Critical Infrastructure Protection Board in April 2003, saying he was retiring from government service to join the private sector…

Schmidt will be responsible for creating a U.S network security strategy that encompasses protocols for ensuring a unified response to cybersecurity incidents. He also will be in charge of strengthening partnerships between government and business, the research and development of next-generation technology and a national campaign for cybersecurity awareness.

Schmidt has a depth of experience in cybersecurity, most recently working in the U.K. for the Information Security Forum, a nonprofit that focuses on researching and evaluating cybersecurity risks. His private industry experience includes a stint as chief information security officer for auction giant eBay and chief security officer for Microsoft, where he worked on the company’s Trustworthy Computing initiative, a massive revamp of Microsoft’s security practices.

On the government side, Schmidt served in the U.S. Air Force in both active duty and civilian positions. He established the first dedicated computer forensic lab when he was a supervisory special agent and director of the Air Force’s Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI) Computer Forensic Lab and Computer Crime and Information Warfare Division. Before that position, he headed the Computer Exploitation Team with the FBI at the National Drug Intelligence Center…

Schmidt’s experience across the public and private sectors — and technical acumen — will serve him well, said Alan Paller, director of research at the SANS Institute. “He was the only one being considered who knew what it was like to secure a system. That set him apart from everybody,” Paller said.

I wish him well. Not a position I would envy.

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2 comments

  1. Cinaedh

    “I think it will be a very tough job. He’s going to have to herd some cats…”

    I’ve attempted a lot of cat herding in my time.

    Here’s a tip for Mr. Schmidt:

    You can’t.

  2. Mr. Fusion

    “He was the only one being considered who knew what it was like to secure a system. That set him apart from everybody,”

    Maybe they should have considered a few more people. I have no idea if Schmidt is qualified or not, but when you restrict the considered to only one candidate, you are missing more than a few good people.

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