The Hill

Dissension in the ranks?

capitol dome

Former White House Cybersecurity Coordinator Howard Schmidt said Congress' inability to pass legislation that would better define agencies' cybersecurity roles should not be a serious problem, despite a tug of war over who is in charge.

"I think the [cybersecurity] executive order has clarified some of those leadership issues," Schmidt said, noting that it is generally agreed that the Department of Homeland Security supports the private sector when it comes to critical infrastructure; the Defense Department and the National Security Agency work with the defense industrial base and defense entities, including some parts of the intelligence community; and the FBI handles law enforcement and counterintelligence.

In terms of legislation, the House has passed a bill aimed at lowering the barriers for sharing information between the private sector and the government, but a broader Senate bill has gone nowhere.

Schmidt said he believes agencies can get along fine without Congress delineating their cybersecurity responsibilities.

"By all accounts, there's a consensus that the role in domestic things is clear: If somebody hacks into a power company [and] disrupts the electrical flow, the FBI would take the lead on the criminal aspect of that unless it's a nation-state...and then the rules are different," he said. "We see more debate than is necessary on this. Let's solve the problem of who gets to worry about their side of the ledger because it's pretty clear."

About the Author

Amber Corrin is a former staff writer for FCW and Defense Systems.

Featured

  • Defense
    Soldiers from the Old Guard test the second iteration of the Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS) capability set during an exercise at Fort Belvoir, VA in Fall 2019. Photo by Courtney Bacon

    IVAS and the future of defense acquisition

    The Army’s Integrated Visual Augmentation System has been in the works for years, but the potentially multibillion deal could mark a paradigm shift in how the Defense Department buys and leverages technology.

  • Cybersecurity
    Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas  (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Lora Ratliff)

    Mayorkas announces cyber 'sprints' on ransomware, ICS, workforce

    The Homeland Security secretary announced a series of focused efforts to address issues around ransomware, critical infrastructure and the agency's workforce that will all be launched in the coming weeks.

Stay Connected