Cybersecurity will get a high-level champion at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security as part of a broad reorganization announced in July by DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff.
Chertoff announced a new position of assistant secretary for cyber and telecommunications security, thereby raising the standing of the cybersecurity chief on DHS’s organizational chart. Some technology-oriented trade groups, as well as members of Congress, have urged the creation of such a position.
An assistant secretary will have the authority to set policy and pull private industry into collaborations with government, observes Information Technology Association of America President Harris Miller. He says there needs to be a “sophisticated, real-time, highly trusted” information-sharing mechanism between government and private companies. In addition, says Jack Danahy, CEO with IT security vendor Ounce Labs, an assistant secretary will be able to tie together several cybersecurity efforts within government.
But James Lewis, director of the Technology and Public Policy Program at the Center for Strategic & International Studies, says that without greater leadership from the top levels of the Bush administration, a new position may not improve cybersecurity much. Critics complain that cybersecurity has not been a high enough priority for the White House. (Find out more about cybersecurity at DHS)