White House plans strategy for better cyber authentication

Obama administration to release draft of National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace

The Obama administration plans to release late this week a draft of a new national strategy for improving capabilities to identify and authenticate people, organizations and infrastructure in cyberspace, the White House’s top cyber official said today.

The National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace document lays out goals and objectives to allow for laws, policies and programs to improve the trustworthiness of digital identities in cyberspace, said Howard Schmidt, the White House’s cyber coordinator. Schmidt said the document, now in its second version, would be released June 25 for public comment.

Schmidt, speaking during at the Symantec Government Symposium held in Washington, said that the strategy was called for by the Obama administration’s review of cyber policy that was completed last year. The strategy builds on work the government has done in identity management under Homeland Security Presidential Directive-12. He also said it recognizes the need to educate users of computer systems.

The strategy cannot exist in isolation and it’s going to take a commitment to security, he added. “We can’t do this in isolation, we’ve got to work together to design this system,” Schmidt said emphasizing the need for government and industry to collaborate on the effort.

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Schmidt said improving identification in cyberspace will involve working with industry to design an ecosystem for identities in cyberspace, build it, and then manage it. He said officials anticipate the strategy will lead to:

  • Improved identity solutions and reduced online identity theft
  • Better overall online experience
  • Online innovation and
  • Reduced costs.

Schmidt said identity solutions for cyberspace need to be:

  • Secure and desirable
  • Interoperable and federated
  • Privacy-enhancing and voluntary and
  • Cost-effective and easy to use.

The administration will use Web 2.0 technologies to gather feedback from people on the draft strategy, Schmidt said. After that process, President Barack Obama will review the strategy and make a final decision on it.

“As we prepare this we want to make sure that we have every view point possible in pulling this together,” Schmidt said, adding that the goal is to have Obama sign the document this fall.


About the Author

Ben Bain is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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Reader comments

Mon, Jun 28, 2010 TheCBob Texas

For those of us that have worked in the computer security industry more than a couple of years, there are a host of good products and even better procedures to use for I&A. I'm not getting a warm fuzzy knowing the current administration is leading this.

Wed, Jun 23, 2010 Bad Bob Fort Huachuca, Arizona

Why should identity be limited to cyberspace? There is still the need for a National ID card married to a system for assured identity where no one can be issued official identity under false pretenses. This would eliminate the scourge if identity theft. The Fourteenth Amendment created a new class of citizen directly subject to the jurisdiction of the federal government. The feds have a responsibility to identify all those subject to the jurisdiction thereof.

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