Keith Rhodes, senior vice president and chief technology officer with QinetiQ North America’ Mission Solutions Group, authored a recent article for DefenseNews.com, in which he advocates for the United States to move forward in cyber-defense measures in 2010. With the announcement last month of Howard Schmidt as cybersecurity coordinator at the White House, Rhodes’ article is well timed.
He advances four areas he believes should see progress during 2010.
1) Education. Rhodes states “the first step to realizing comprehensive cybersecurity is understanding the true connectivity in our nation’s data.” He believes that cybersecurity is the shared responsibility of everyone operating on a network. “All users must understand that if they have access to information, they may also inadvertently allow unauthorized access to that information. We cannot simply believe that someone else is protecting our data,” Rhodes said.
2) Partnerships. Rhodes advocates for the creation and solidification of partnerships between the public and private sectors, particularly given that the private sector holds the majority of the nation’s cyber infrastructure. According to Rhodes, “without proper partnerships, data storage and transmission are only as safe as the weakest link among the instituted cybersecurity procedures.” He believes the private sector needs to be provided with incentives to increase security and should face consequences when systems are breached.
3) Communication. This is a key part of Rhodes’ plan, particularly because so much depends on adequate communication between the private and public sectors. “Conversations must occur between government and industry that clearly communicate the cybersecurity requirements of civilian government and military missions,” Rhodes said.
4) Mission understanding. Rhodes believes this is the most important piece to the puzzle. Without adequate understanding of what the mission is, cybersecurity efforts will fail. According to Rhodes, “Without knowing what needs to be done, we cannot know what needs to be protected. Mission understanding needs to be the fabric that cybersecurity is made out of.”
2010 will likely prove to be a seminal year for cybersecurity. Howard Schmidt will look to establish his authority and develop a national cybersecurity plan. The new Cyber Command will likely be set up next to NSA headquarters at Fort Meade. Schmidt would do well to implement some of Rhodes’ advice.
The full text of the article can be accessed here.