DHS reorganization creates new cybersecurity position
The move could mean more focus on cybersecurity issues
Chertoff, in the results of a review of the DHS structure he started after taking over as secretary in February, elevated the cybersecurity chief at the DHS several levels on the agency's organizational chart by creating a position of assistant secretary for cyber and telecommunications security. Several tech-oriented trade groups, including the Information Technology Association of America (ITAA) and the Cyber Security Industry Alliance, have repeatedly called for an assistant secretary to raise the profile of cybersecurity issues at the DHS.
The DHS did not release information about when it expected to have an assistant secretary in place.
An assistant secretary will have the authority to set policy and pull private industry into collaborations with government, ITAA President Harris Miller said recently. "The proof of the pudding is in the eating," Miller said. "Have we made enough progress yet in those areas? The clear answer is no."
IT groups have also suggested that a higher-level position with more authority would stop high turnover among government cybersecurity chiefs. The last DHS cybersecurity director, Amit Yoran, lasted about a year on the job.
Miller applauded Chertoff's decision to create the new position. Four bills introduced in Congress this year had also called on the DHS to create an assistant secretary of cybersecurity.
The DHS, when it was created in January 2003, didn't "give adequate focus" to cybersecurity, Miller said. He said the assistant secretary should establish lines of communication between government and private industry. In many cases, private industry sees cyberattacks sooner than government agencies do, he said, and there needs to be a "sophisticated, real-time, highly trusted" information-sharing mechanism between government and private companies.
An assistant secretary will be able to tie together several cybersecurity efforts within government, added Jack Danahy, CEO of Ounce Labs Inc., an IT security vendor. "Now there will be one voice telling the industry what government wants to do," said Danahy, who serves on a software security working group at DHS.
But some security experts have questioned the value of an assistant secretary, saying that without greater leadership from the top levels of the Bush administration, a new position may not improve cybersecurity much.
"If you don't have a strategy, does it matter what you call them?" said James Lewis, director of the Technology and Public Policy Program at the Center for Strategic & International Studies, a Washington think tank. "Can you think of an assistant secretary who's an advocate in Washington?"
Lewis suggested "no" is the correct answer to both questions. He acknowledged, in a recent interview, that on a symbolic level, a higher-level position could raise the profile of cybersecurity issues, but in practice, "I don't know if it makes much of a difference."
Chertoff's reorganization includes a number of other changes at the DHS, including the hiring of a chief medical officer to address medical preparedness, and the assignment of chief intelligence officer duties to the DHS assistant secretary for information analysis. Chertoff noted in a speech that the DHS has 10 intelligence-generating offices, and the role of the chief intelligence officer will be to coordinate all DHS intelligence.
- 18 Hot IT Certifications for 2014
- CIOs Opting for IT Contractors Over Hiring Full-Time Staff
- 12 Best Free iOS 7 Holiday Shopping Apps
- For CMOs Big Data Can Lead to Big Profits
- Slideshow: 5 ways to lock down your mobile device
- Slideshow: 10 mistakes companies make after a data breach
- How to rob a bank: A social engineering walk through
- Which smartphone is the most secure?
If you think getting it right from day one is always what matters, you probably haven't been following technology too closely.
- IT Certification Study Tips
- Register for this Computerworld Insider Study Tip guide and gain access to hundreds of premium content articles, cheat sheets, product reviews and more.
- Bring Networks and Applications Closer--Cisco ONE
- A series of sweeping trends is placing new requirements on the tried-and-true network model--requiring network infrastructure and applications to communicate. Get the open...
- Lippis Research Reviews the Cisco Catalyst 2960-X
- In this Lippis Report Research Note, Lippis Research reviews the latest edition of the "most popular access switch on the planet" -- the...
- Design Guide--Scaling Up to a Campus-Wide LAN
- Is it time to scale your network environment to a campus wired LAN? Here's the framework you need to set up your LAN...
- Comprehensive Security: Cisco Catalyst 2960 Series
- With a rich and comprehensive set of security features, Cisco Catalyst 2960-X and 2960-XR Series Switches can help you address networking megatrends such...
- Be Energy Efficient--The Cisco Catalyst 2960 Series
- How much energy could be saved if all 230 million Layer 2 and 3 fixed managed switch ports sold in 2012 were as... All Government IT White Papers
- Modernizing SAP environments with minimum risk - a path to Big Data Hear from top IDC analyst, Richard Villars, about the path you can start taking now to enable your organization to get the benefits...
- Vblock™ Specialized System for SAP HANA® Overview video from DJ Long about the new Vblock Specialized System for SAP HANA®.
- The Power of the Citrix Mobility Solution, XenMobile Does everything become a smartphone? Or does the smartphone begin to do everything? How can we afford to support BYOD? Rather, how can...
- BYOD Happens: How to Secure Mobility How to navigate the journey of securing mobility, including the BYOD corruption of IT, the top ten mobility strategies, and the mobility management...
- Fighting Fraud Videos: IBM Intelligent Investigation Manager Short videos about IBM Intelligent Investigation Manager (IIM) for Fraud. IIM optimizes the investigation of fraud for customers across many industries in both...
- All Government IT Webcasts
Does your organization offer extensive benefits, cool perks, competitive salaries, opportunities for training and advancement? Then get it recognized!
Nominate your company or another deserving organization for Computerworld's 2014 Best Places to Work in IT list now through Dec. 20, 2013.