News24

New cyber security boss named

2009-12-22 21:20

Washington - US President Barack Obama has tapped former Bush administration adviser Howard Schmidt as his cyber security co-ordinator, the White House announced on Tuesday.

"Howard will have the important responsibility of orchestrating the many important cyber security activities across the government," said John Brennan, Obama's assistant for homeland security and counterterrorism.

"Howard will have regular access to the president and serve as a key member of his National Security Staff," Brennan said in a statement.

"He will also work closely with his economic team to ensure that our cyber security efforts keep the nation secure and prosperous," he said.

Schmidt, a cyber adviser in George W Bush's administration, is president of the non-profit consortium Information Security Forum.

Cyber command unit

In his new capacity, Schmidt will be based at the National Security Council, co-ordinating the federal government's cyber security policy for both military and civilian agencies.

An Air Force and FBI veteran, Schmidt also previously served as chief security officer at Microsoft.

Citing his four decades of experience in government, business and law enforcement, Brennan called Schmidt "one of the world's leading authorities on computer security".

The move comes as the Pentagon launches a new cyber command unit and the Department of Homeland Security seeks to boost the protection of civilian networks.

"Cyber security matters to all of us. Protecting the internet is critical to our national security, public safety and our personal privacy and civil liberties," Brennan said.

"It's also vital to President Obama's efforts to strengthen our country, from the modernisation of our health care system to the high-tech job creation central to our economic recovery."