Uncle Cyber Sam wants you

Obama administration makes a full-court press to engage industry and the public in the crusade against cyber war

All of a sudden, the cyber spooks and watchdogs in the Obama administration are coming out of the shadows, making a full-court press to engage industry and the public in their crusade against cyber war.

Howard Schmidt, the president’s new cybersecurity chief, Janet Napolitano, homeland security secretary, and FBI Director Robert Mueller made sequential keynote addresses in early March at the RSA Conference in San Francisco. Schmidt made the biggest news, opening the “Einstein 3 Kimono,” as Richi Jennings of Computerworld’s IT Blogwatch put it, referring to the unveiling of the super-secret Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative and a summary of its 12-point program.

Einstein 3 is a next-generation tool the government is developing to protect the civilian government domain. The summary said the program “will draw on commercial technology and specialized government technology to conduct real-time full packet inspection and threat-based decision-making on network traffic entering or leaving these executive branch networks.”

It's definitely eye-opening, wrote Kit Eaton of Fast Company. “And while you may suspect that Schmidt could only reveal the tiniest of details about such an important plan, he actually spilled quite a few beans in an attempt to get academics and private companies to buy into the government's plans.”

Napolitano, appearing the next day, said public education will be a critical part of the agency’s strategy. She announced the launch of a new competition that asks any and all comers for help in designing a cybersecurity public awareness campaign. Her ambition is “comparable in scale to forest fire and smoking prevention campaigns,” wrote Alejandro Martinez-Cabrera in SFGate’s The Tech Chronicles.

You can go to www.dhs.gov/cyberchallenge to submit your ideas. And, of course, they will remain confidential.

About the Author

David Rapp is editor-in-chief of Federal Computer Week and VP of content for 1105 Government Information Group.

FCW in Print

In the latest issue: Looking back on three decades of big stories in federal IT.


  • Anne Rung -- Commerce Department Photo

    Exit interview with Anne Rung

    The government's departing top acquisition official said she leaves behind a solid foundation on which to build more effective and efficient federal IT.

  • Charles Phalen

    Administration appoints first head of NBIB

    The National Background Investigations Bureau announced the appointment of its first director as the agency prepares to take over processing government background checks.

  • Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.)

    Senator: Rigid hiring process pushes millennials from federal work

    Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) said agencies are missing out on younger workers because of the government's rigidity, particularly its protracted hiring process.

  • FCW @ 30 GPS

    FCW @ 30

    Since 1987, FCW has covered it all -- the major contracts, the disruptive technologies, the picayune scandals and the many, many people who make federal IT function. Here's a look back at six of the most significant stories.

  • Shutterstock image.

    A 'minibus' appropriations package could be in the cards

    A short-term funding bill is expected by Sept. 30 to keep the federal government operating through early December, but after that the options get more complicated.

  • Defense Secretary Ash Carter speaks at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco

    DOD launches new tech hub in Austin

    The DOD is opening a new Defense Innovation Unit Experimental office in Austin, Texas, while Congress debates legislation that could defund DIUx.

Reader comments

Thu, Mar 11, 2010

It's a good thing that the pioneer spirit of days gone by didn't wait for every inevitable possibility to be resolved before going west and staking you ground. Imagine if they had to wait for the government to defend them from internal threats. We all would be east coast.

Mon, Mar 8, 2010 Carlos wisconsin

http://www.linkedin.com/in/carloserodriguez Finally Microsoft gets it. They finally understand that selling an OS with not network security is bad for their businees too. Microsoft is offering FREE virus and malware protection for the windows family of PC's. But we need more. Systems that go on the net or connect interfaces, must be inheritantly safe. This is the big problem. Systems are going in the network that can not stand an attack. Owning a CAR includes brakes with it. Why do we have PC's with no brakes or door looks. PC OS's are a defective product and that is the source. We wanted a free and friendly communication medium, but the criminals do not care and are taking advantage of that.

Mon, Mar 8, 2010

Normally, I would say this is a positive development. As an IT professional, cybersecurity is important to me. But in the hands of the current administration, this scares the daylights out of me.

Mon, Mar 8, 2010 Jim Maryland

Great news! It seems as roughly the IT equivalent of fort-building in colonial times, offering protection to important but nonetheless very small patches of ground. The question is when will the nation's IT defense systems progress to the point of protecting JQ Citizen against attacks from outside our borders, then ultimately defending internal threats? American businesses and individuals spend inordinate amounts of otherwise productive time defending and worrying about various levels of cyber-attacks at all levels.

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group