Next President Must Focus on Cybersecurity

Trusted Internet Connections

The multi-billion dollar presidential directive calls on multiple agencies, including the National Security Agency (NSA), to work together to improve the security of federal systems, which have routinely been criticized in congressional report cards and in reports issued by the Government Accountability Office. Since the effort was disclosed in January, few specifics have been released -- except that it involves a massive network consolidation effort called Trusted Internet Connections as well as plans to revamp a network monitoring technology called Einstein. That lack of information has spooked some politicians and privacy advocates, especially because of the NSA's involvement.

"A vast amount of this initiative would have to be done at an unclassified level," Yoran said. For the effort to be truly effective, "the people in the trenches" need to be able to share and use information as much as possible without secrecy limitations.

In addition, a commission established last November by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) suggests that the White House take more responsibility for leading national cybersecurity efforts. The commission, of which Yoran is a member, is working on a set of cybersecurity recommendations for the 44th Presidency.

One of the most significant is that the next administration should consider taking a direct role in coordinating cyberdefenses because the DHS has so far failed in that role. The commission said it is arguing for a more direct White House role because it believes that only the president's office has the authority and the oversight needed to pull the effort together.

Meanwhile, both presidential candidates themselves have said they would make information security a top priority.

In a position paper released in July, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., noted that as president he would declare cyber infrastructure a strategic asset "vital to national security and the global economy." The paper noted that an Obama administration would strengthen federal oversight on cyber issues and create a national cyber advisor reporting directly to the president. In addition, Obama would push for more research and development for secure systems and networking technologies capable of withstanding cyberattacks.

In a similar position paper expressing his views on various Homeland Security challenges, Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain's campaign noted that a McCain administration would give cybersecurity "priority attention." It noted that the candidate would offer "full support" for the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team (U.S.-CERT) and the National Cyber Response Coordination Group for coordinating all defenses against and responses to a cyber attack.

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