Analysis: The face of the new ‘cyber czar’

By Dorothy Ramienski
Internet Editor

There has been a lot of talk about what the cyber czar position is going look like — and what his or her duties will entail.

On Tuesday’s Daily Debrief, hosts Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris got analysis from Bob Gourley, Chief Technology Officer at Crucial Point, LLC.

Gourley says, first and foremost, the job title has to go.

“I think it’s not a good name because, in every other case, a czar in D.C. lingo, is someone who has no authority — except maybe some nagging authority and some convening authority — and has no responsibility to really get stuff done. . . . It’s very much like herding cats.”

Despite this, what is clear is that progress in the area of cybersecurity has already been made, which means the new cyber czar will be able to build on the work of others.

In his opinion, Gourley thinks the first step after appointment should involve an assessment of where, exactly, things stand for the federal government.

The 60 day review, for example, is a great place to begin.

“[It’s] a tremendous articulation of every issue I know about in the cyber world. So, it’s just fantastic progress to be able to articulate the issues like that. Another [positive step] is the significant, positive improvement in the dialogue between the federal leaders and leaders in industry and academia.”

He also notes that more officials in these areas are paying attention to what is perhaps the most important aspect of cybersecurity — the threat itself.

“Previously, the threat was known inside the Intelligence Community and the National Security Community, but it’s been hard to express in an open way. Well, now we have the President himself spelling out exactly what the threat is in very real terms and I think it’s good to have that.”

It’s also important to note the President’s interest in technology. Gourley cites this as a reassuring aspect of the leaders that Mr. Obama has appointed so far.

As far as looking into the crystal ball and trying to figure out who might be the next cyber czar, Gourley says he’s at a loss.

“I know so many of the names being mentioned and so many are just world-class folks. I have no idea what the selection criteria will be myself. Maybe they’re going to want someone who has been a Congressman or a Senator or Federal judge who can interact at that level. But if you want somebody who can get things done in federal government, it’s always good to have proven past performance.”

In his opinion, Gourley says he thinks a good choice would be Melissa Hathaway, Acting Senior Director for Cyberspace for the National Security and Homeland Security Councils.

He says, no matter what, however, whomever President Obama picks will have a lot of support when he or she first becomes ‘czar’.

On the Web:

White House — Melissa Hathaway’s Blog: Securing Our Digital Future

Crucial Point — Web site

Bob Gourley — CTO Vision blog

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