InfoSec World Conference, March 8th, Orlando Florida – In an exclusive in-person interview today with The Data Security Podcast, Howard Schmidt commented on the sudden resignation Friday of Rod Beckström as head of the National Cyber Security Center (“NCSC)”. Howard Schmidt served as the Cyber Security Advisor to the White House, and he was the Chief Security Strategist for the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-Cert) Partners Program for The NCSC.
Rod Beckström wrote a strongly-worded resignation letter that has been made public. Mr. Beckström claims that the organization he was appointed to head, the NCSC, has been forced to subjugate its role as the nation’s leading cyber security body to the National Security Agency. The National Security Agency is part of the defence department. Rod Beckström felt that cyber security should be led by the civilian Department of Homeland Security, in the name of democracy and civilian control.
Schmidt said that Beckström, an entrepreneur and author prior to heading NCSC, had a “different perspective, coming from the private sector.”
“The NSA has done a great job on defense systems, and that [expertise] could be applied to other areas of cyber security,” Schmidt said.
Howard Schmidt thinks that NSA does have a legitimate role to play in the leading nation’s cyber security. While he does acknowledge Beckstrom’s concern about the NSA’s reputation of secrecy and eavesdropping on US Citizens, Schmidt thinks that controls can be put into place that “draws lines.” Schmidt suggested that these lines need to be “constantly monitored.”
He also said that the Obama administration promised transparency in government – that promise should extend to drawing those lines.
(Data Security Podcast says: To date, the Obama administration has been less than transparent in certain respects, and has reneged on promises to post all bills online for five days of public comment before the President signs them. Let’s hope for more transparent practices when it comes to cybersecurity.)
More about the face-to-face interview on Episode 43 of the Data Security Podcast.