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.

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