Obama Cyber Security Czar: Protection or Intrusion

Posted in United States | 01-Jun-09 | Author: Jim Kouri| Source: National Association of Chiefs of Police

"Cyber war!" flashes on the screen at an Internet security conference.

The nation's computer network infrastructure will be defended as a national strategic asset, President Barack Obama said earlier today, according to Jim Garamone of the American Forces Press Service. During a White House announcement televised on Fox News, CNN and other news networks, Obama said he will appoint a cyber security coordinator -- or Cyber Czar -- for the critical infrastructure that all Americans depend on.

"We will ensure that these networks are secure, trustworthy and resilient," he said. "We will deter, prevent, detect and defend against attacks, and recover quickly from any disruptions or damage."

The cyber security office will orchestrate and integrate all cyber security policies for the government, the president said. It will work closely with the Office of Management and Budget to ensure agency budgets reflect those priorities, and, in the event of major cyber incident or attack, it will coordinate government response.

The cyber security coordinator will be a member of the national security staff and will serve on the president's national economic council. But not everyone is jumping for joy over this latest development. Critics point out that any high-tech program that entails government intrusion should be carefully monitored by not only the US Congress but also private sector experts in cyber security and computer-based espionage. "People went ballistic when they discovered the Bush White House authorized the interception of telephone and other electronic communications by intelligence and law enforcement agencies. Yet, I haven't heard a peep from these same people who claim they are concerned with 'privacy rights,'" said political strategist Mark Barker. "This may come back to haunt us as the first step down a truly slippery slope," said former New York City Police detective and Marine Corps intelligence officer. "The technology involved is so complicated that it may take computer scientists to discover whether the government is protecting Americans on the worldwide web or spying on them," said Detective Sam McCarthy.
"To ensure that policies keep faith with our fundamental values, this office will also include an official with a portfolio specifically dedicated to safeguarding the privacy and civil liberties of the American people," Obama said. "Clear milestones and performance metrics will measure progress."

The cyber infrastructure is not limited to the federal government. The office will work with state and local governments and international partners to combat cyber attacks, and also will work with the private sector to ensure an organized and unified response to future cyber incidents, Obama stated.

"Given the enormous damage that can be caused by even a single cyber attack, ad hoc responses will not do," Obama said. "Nor is it sufficient to simply strengthen our defenses after incidents or attacks occur. Just as we do for natural disasters, we have to have plans and resources in place beforehand, sharing information, issuing warnings and ensuring a coordinated response."

The problem is spreading. Obama said cyber criminals launched attacks worldwide last year that cost consumers $1 trillion.

America's economic prosperity in the 21st century will depend on cyber security, which also affects public safety and national security, the president said. "We count on computer networks to deliver our oil and gas, our power and our water," he said. Computers help run public transportation networks from the skies to subways, he noted, and hackers have launched attacks on electrical grids.

"Our technological advantage is a key to America's military dominance, but our defense and military networks are under constant attacks," he said. "Al-Qaida and other terrorist groups have spoken of their desire to unleash a cyber attack on our country, attacks that are harder to detect and harder to defend against. Indeed, in today's world, acts of terror could come not only from a few extremists in suicide vests, but from a few keystrokes on the computer - a weapon of mass disruption."

Part of the program is a national campaign to promote cyber security awareness and digital literacy. The effort also will be part of the president's initiative to build a digital work force for the 21st century.

"The task I have described will not be easy," he said. "Some 1.5 billion people around the world are already online, and more are logging on every day. Groups and governments are sharpening their cyber capabilities. Protecting our prosperity and security in this globalized world is going to be a long, difficult struggle, demanding patience and persistence over many years." http://www.examiner.com/examiner/x-2684-Law-Enforcement-Examiner~y2009m5d29-Obama-Cyber-Security-Czar-Protection-or-intrusion

Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police and he's a staff writer for the New Media Alliance (thenma.org). In addition, he's the former blog editor for the House Conservatives Fund's weblog. Recently, the editors at Examiner.com appointed him as their Law Enforcement Examiner. Kouri also serves as political advisor for Emmy and Golden Globe winning actor Michael Moriarty.

He's former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed "Crack City" by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for several major organizations. He's also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. Kouri writes for many police and security magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer and others. He's a news writer for NewswithViews.com and PHXnews.com. He's also a columnist for AmericanDailyReview.Com, MensNewsDaily.Com, MichNews.Com, and he's syndicated by AXcessNews.Com. He's appeared as on-air commentator for over 300 TV and radio news and talk shows including Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, Fox News, etc. If you wish to receive Kouri's emailed law enforcement and intelligence reports, write to him at [email protected] Simply write "Free Subscription" on the subject line.