Cybersecurity task force established

The cybersecurity taskforce, which will be chaired by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, is expected to complete its review by June 2010. The aim is to evaluate how the country can better coordinate its defenses against the growing challenge posed by cyberespionage, cyberterrorism and cyberwarfare, an issue that has been of mounting concern to the administration as it concentrates on the cybersecurity threat to the US.

The review is the second to take place this year. Following a security breach at the Federal Aviation Administration, President Obama launched a 60-day cybersecurity review and released a broad five-point plan in late May to try to tackle the issue more effectively.

The plan included the creation of a new cyber-czar position to devise, co-ordinate and manage cybersecurity strategy across different government agencies. President Obama said he would personally choose who would fill the cyber-czar position and give whoever was appointed regular access to the Oval Office.

But critics have criticized the role’s lack of teeth. Any appointee to the cyber-czar role would not report directly to the President and would instead work for the National Security Council and the National Economic Council. As a result, numerous people are already believed to have turned it down, the latest being Art Coviello, the president of EMC’s security division, RSA .

At an annual press dinner on Monday, Coviello reportedly indicated that an advisor to the Obama administration had contacted him to gauge his interest in the cybersecurity position. But he rejected the approach as he felt that the cyber-czar position did not have effective reporting lines in place.

He said that federal cybersecurity was a complex issue and that making tough policy decisions would be difficult without the authority of the President. Some senior officials at the White House feared that cybersecurity related issues would stifle innovation if the position wielded too much power, Coviello added.

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