[ISN] President's Top IT Security Adviser To Resign

From: InfoSec News (isnat_private)
Date: Mon Apr 21 2003 - 00:48:17 PDT

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    Forwarded from: Jei <jeiat_private> 
    By Brian Krebs
    washingtonpost.com Staff Writer
    Friday, April 18, 2003
    White House cybersecurity adviser Howard Schmidt will resign from his
    post at the end of the month, raising concerns about the Bush
    administration's commitment to implementing its strategy for
    protecting the nation's critical information infrastructure.
    Several friends and close associates of Schmidt said he had informed
    them of his plans to leave the White House. The former chief of
    security at Microsoft Corp., Schmidt became chair of the President's
    Critical Infrastructure Protection Board in February following the
    departure of his predecessor, Richard Clarke.
    Schmidt played a key role in drafting the administration's recently
    released cybersecurity strategy, and has spent the last two years
    building ties with the private sector in a joint effort to protect the
    nation's most important information systems from cyber-attack. He had
    been negotiating to become cybersecurity adviser to Homeland Security
    Secretary Tom Ridge, but his effort fell through, according to friends
    and associates interviewed for this story.
    Schmidt's imminent departure would leave the administration without a
    high-ranking official solely in charge of cybersecurity, at a time
    when many observers are criticizing the White House for shifting
    attention and resources away from the issue.
    "Industry understands this is an important issue. Congress and the
    president have said [it is too], yet the department has no senior
    level official working full-time on the issue," Clarke said. Failing
    to appoint a cybersecurity adviser at Homeland Security "reflects a
    total lack of intellectual understanding of the issue on the part of
    the people working for Ridge," he said.
    In January, the administration consolidated the work of five federal
    cybersecurity offices into the Homeland Security Department, but it
    remains unclear how those divisions will work together or whether they
    have adequate resources to carry out their mission.
    Full responsibility for cybersecurity matters currently rests with
    Robert Liscouski, a former Coca-Cola executive who was recently named
    assistant secretary of infrastructure protection at the Homeland
    Security Department. Liscouski's portfolio includes both cybersecurity
    and protecting the nation's vital physical assets from attack. Given
    the scope of the physical infrastructure challenge, some observers
    have said cybersecurity matters will be overlooked.
    "The great irony here is that we have President Bush doing what
    Clinton refused to do - namely giving cybersecurity incredibly high
    prominence in naming a personal assistant to the president and issuing
    a national cybersecurity strategy," said Harris Miller, president of
    the Information Technology Association of America.
    "Yet, a few weeks after the strategy's release, all of the leadership
    (on cybersecurity) disappears. There are some very serious
    consequences of that in terms of the lack of leadership, because a lot
    of what needs to be done requires a full time cheerleader."
    After Clarke's departure from the White House in February, the
    administration announced that it was abolishing the Critical
    Infrastructure Board and transferring its duties to the Department of
    Homeland Security. That move did not eliminate Schmidt's role as White
    House cybersecurity adviser, though it did eliminate his
    responsibility for leading the board.
    Schmidt declined to comment for this story. White House and DHS
    officials did not return calls seeking comment.
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