Blue-ribbon panel to recommend cybersecurity measure to next president

Published 6 November 2007

CSIS creates a 31-member committee of experts and policy makers to recommend comprehensive cybersecurity measures to the next president

A new blue-ribbon panel that will develop cybersecurity recommendations for the next president faces a compressed schedule and the challenge of agreeing on a cybersecurity agenda that it wants the next administration to address. FCWs Jason Miller quotes experts to say that cyber threats from terrorists, organized crime, and other countries lack a common thread and instead stem from a variety of vulnerabilities, including insufficient training, technology weaknesses, and a culture of Internet use that puts the public and private sector at risk. For those reasons, the most obvious recommendation for improving basic cyberdefenses is the hardest to accomplish, said Glenn Schlarman, former branch chief at the Office of Information Policy and Technology at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) organized the Commission on Cyber Security for the 44th Presidency and outlined in a recent briefing. “We want to give the next administration new ideas or policies that they can pick up and run with,” said Jim Lewis, director of CSIS’s technology and public policy program. “This is a threat that is growing and putting our critical infrastructure and financial systems in peril. People are attacking the U.S. in better and smarter ways, and we need to become better and smarter to deal with them.” Schlarman said that “nearly every example of something bad that happened — even the Chinese having their way with defense systems — has not been rocket science but poor security practices. We still do not correct commonly known vulnerabilities in information systems. The problem is poor hygiene. There is not some new dirt that we have to get out.”

Representatives Jim Langevin (D-Rhode Island) and Mike McCaul (R-Texas), chairman and ranking member, respectively, of the Homeland Security Committee’s Emerging Threats, Cybersecurity, and Science and Technology Subcommittee, as cochairmen of the panel. Scott Charney, vice president at Microsoft’s Trustworthy Computing Group, and retired Navy Adm. Bobby Inman, a professor of national policy at the University of Texas at Austin, will represent industry as the panel’s cochairmen. The thirty-one-member commission, which includes former federal officials and industry leaders, will hold five plenary sessions to discuss an agenda. The first one is scheduled for this week. The panel plans to submit recommendations to the next president by December 2008, Langevin said. The commission will offer a blueprint for securing cyberspace, Langevin said. “My philosophy as subcommittee chairman is that we are such a free and open society that it is very difficult if not impossible to secure the Internet. My objective is to identify the most severe vulnerabilities and close them.”