Cybersecurity: A Year in Review

This past Saturday, May 29 marked the one year anniversary of the President Barack Obama’s speech on cybersecurity where he said “America’s economic prosperity in the 21st century will depend on cybersecurity.” Since that speech, the United States has moved systematically towards enhancing cybersecurity through the following initiatives:

The 60-day Cyberspace Policy Review, spearheaded by Melissa Hathaway, recommended a number of ways to enhance U.S. cybersecurity efforts. One of which was the creation of a Cybersecurity Coordinator position within the White House. In December, President Obama finally named Howard Schmidt to the position.

The U.S. military has also moved forward with cyber, looking to protect DoD networks from the thousands of probes they receive daily. The creation of U.S. Cyber Command was announced last summer. The Navy, Air Force and Army have all stood up a cyber commands to deal with the threat to their individual services. And in May, the U.S. Senate confirmed Gen. Keith Alexander to lead CYBERCOM, following months of delay.

Congress has also joined the cyber frenzy with over 40 bills currently in Congress that touch on cybersecurity. Also, in March, the Obama administration declassified portions of the Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative (CNCI).

Also, several efforts were put forward in the past year to promote greater cooperation domestically and abroad with regards to cybersecurity. The FBI has started to embed cyber investigators abroad with foreign police units in the Ukraine, Estonia and Holland.

In May, representatives from the United States and Russia sat down to discuss cooperation on cyber issues. Additionally, Deloitte sponsored the First International Cybersecurity Summit, which brought together representatives from more than 30 countries.

Domestically, the Obama administration has moved towards greater collaboration, particularly in the research and development sector. Late last month, Schmidt and federal CTO Aneesh Chopra announced the launch of a web forum designed to promote collaboration on R&D.

Despite these advances, some cyber experts believe that more needs to be done to secure the United States.

In an article that appeared over the weekend, Melissa Hathaway and Jack Goldsmith wrote: “This approach demands leadership from the White House and Congress that is difficult to muster in hard economic times. The lesson of the past two decades is that the nation will not get serious about cybersecurity until the costs of not doing so are more apparent — probably after some component of our economy is destroyed by a catastrophic cyber-event.”

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