Cybersecurity czar call renewed

Congressional representatives are trying again to create a cybersecurity position within the Homeland Security Department's Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection Directorate.

The DHS Cybersecurity Enhancement Act of 2005, which would create the job of DHS assistant secretary for cybersecurity, was first introduced in the 108th Congress. Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) and Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) recently reintroduced the legislation, which was assigned to the House Homeland Security Committee last week.

Although the House approved the measure last year as part of a larger package, the new position was not included in the final intelligence reform legislation signed by President Bush.

"It is imperative that Congress work with a sense of urgency to revisit this bill to elevate the position of assistant secretary for cybersecurity, so we can make sure that the top government cybersecurity personnel has the access and authority to get the job done," Lofgren said in a statement. "The creation of this position will also help protect our physical and converged physical/cyber infrastructures by hopefully putting experts -- not bureaucrats -- in charge."

The legislation would grant the assistant secretary authority over cybersecurity policy formulation and program management.

"Creating an assistant secretary is far more than just an organizational change," Thornberry said in a press release. "It is an essential move to assure that cybersecurity is not buried among the many homeland security challenges we face."

Harris Miller, president of the Information Technology Association of America, is hopeful the bill will be signed this year. "We still have a lot of support among the leadership on the House side," he said. "We just need to go back and work with our friends on the Senate side."

Miller said that not having an assistant secretary for cybersecurity has hurt the fight for cybersecurity, diminishing the significance of the threat compared to bioterrorism and nuclear terrorist attacks.

Miller stressed that much of the work should involve the private sector. The government must partner with the private sector to make sure all the sectors, not just the telecommunications sector, give it their full attention.

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