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Cybersecurity Leader Howard Schmidt Remembered

News appeared on Thursday 2 March that Howard Schmidt had passed away following a long battle with cancer.

Schmidt, who was 67, was one of the most highly regarded cybersecurity leaders in the industry. A former air force veteran who served in the Vietnam war, he held positions in both the private and public sectors, most prominently in the US government.

His move from the army to cybersecurity included 12 years serving as a special agent for the United States Army Reserve, as research professor at Idaho State University, and on the boards of multiple vendors and security organizations. He was also CISO of ebay and chief security officer of Microsoft, and served as Chief Security Strategist for the US-CERT Partners Program for the Department of Homeland Security.

Eleanor Dallaway, editor and publisher of Infosecurity Magazine, said: “I am deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Howard Schmidt. It was a great honor to have him serve on the Infosecurity Magazine editorial board, and I remember being delighted when he accepted my invite many years ago.

“I've interviewed Howard several times and have always been overcome with how wonderful he was - not just as a cybersecurity professional, but as a person. Our thoughts go out to Howard's friends and family. He is a great loss to both industry and the world.” 

He was recently working with Ridge Global. Chairman Tom Ridge said in a statement: “Our nation has lost a rare gem. Howard Schmidt was a leader on digital security before most people even knew what a cyber-attack was. His expertise was sought by US Presidents on both sides of the aisle as well as presidents and CEOs of some of the most influential brands in the world.”

In government, Schmidt was the former White House Cybersecurity Advisor to Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush.

“In my role as (ISC)²’s CEO, I had the opportunity to travel and work closely with Howard. He was always someone I found easy to admire professionally, but the opportunity to get to know him personally is something I will always cherish,” said David Shearer, CEO, (ISC)². “We’ve not only lost an incredible person, we’ve lost a long-standing contributor to the global security community.”

Adrian Davis, managing director of (ISC)2, who also worked with Howard at the ISF, told Infosecurity: “He was a real example to us all and a true cybersecurity professional. I remember his sense of humor and his warmth. He'll be missed by both his family and his cybersecurity family.”

Schmidt served as President and CEO of the ISF between 2008 and 2010. Steve Durbin, Managing Director of the ISF, said in a statement: “The ISF is deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Howard Schmidt. During his time with the ISF Howard was able to draw on his depth of experience across senior business, government, academia, law enforcement and information security management roles.

“An internationally renowned visionary in the field of cybersecurity from its earliest days, Howard brought his unparalleled knowledge and passion to his role as president and CEO of our organization.”

Marios Damianides, Past ISACA board chair and partner at Ernst & Young LLP, told Infosecurity: “First, my condolences to Howard’s family for their loss. It is a sad day for all of us, including his friends, colleagues and the security world. I worked with him some years back when we were working on closer alignment between our respective organizations (ISSA and ISACA). It was my honor to present Howard with an honorary CISM certification in 2003, and his contributions as a member of ISACA’s IT Governance Advisory Panel proved invaluable.

“He has always been a terrific leader and visionary in the security world and was not afraid to share perspectives and be provocative. He served his country with dignity and was always proud of that service as well as his contributions to the security industry and thinking. He will be missed.”

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