The past 10 months have been very active in the field of cybersecurity. In May 2009, Melissa Hathaway published her findings from the 60 day Cyberspace Policy Review. In December 2009, President Obama announced that Howard Schmidt would hold the position of Cybersecurity Coordinator at the White House. In January, search engine giant Google announced that they were subjected to a cyber attack which seemed to emanate from China.
As the US looks towards increasing cybersecurity, the nation will look to build effective partnerships in the domestic and international arenas.
General Dale Meyerrose (AF, ret.), VP and General Manager for Cyberspace Solutions at Harris Corporation, recently told The New New Internet that partnerships are “absolutely critical, in my view. 90% of the critical infrastructure in the United States is in private ownership and there is, I think, an inherent responsibility of protection from the government.”
“Most of the sophisticated capability with regard to cyberspace, both capability and protection, reside in the government and a lot of it in the United States Military,” he said.
In the coming year, Schmidt will face a number of challenges, particularly in establishing his authority.
“The first thing is to make sure that he’s part of the right processes, that he has the right roles outlined for how other parts of the government will interface with him. I think he needs to outline the priorities that he’ll focus on,” Gen. Meyerrose said.
Conducting effective coordination between the disparate players involved in cybersecurity will be another significant challenge for Schmidt.
Gen. Meyerrose said “Probably the most difficult [challenge] to figure out is how to get the 22 different governmental departments and many agencies to give credence to working together in solving jointly the issues in front of our government, and our country.”
The federal government and private corporations are also looking to attract, train and retain top flight cyber professionals. According to Meyerrose, Harris Corporation works closely with a number of educational institutions in an effort to recruit the next generation of cyber professionals.
Cyber education of the general populace is equally important. With good cyber hygiene, the percentage of successful cyber attacks would be significantly reduced.
“There is a responsibility of our citizenry to protect not only themselves, but other users. I don’t think the importance of this social responsibility has been articulated, nor what these problems might be,” Gen. Meyerrose said. “The government can take part in this education through public service announcements and other such devices.”
“There are no pedestrians in cyberspace,” he said.