Jim Kouri
Cyber Security Czar named by Obama
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By Jim Kouri
December 23, 2009

After several months of making his initial announcement that he intended to appoint a Cyber Security Czar, President Barack Obama has selected a national cyber security coordinator to help protect government and private sector computer systems from terrorists, criminals and hackers.

Obama appointed Howard A. Schmidt, a veteran of computer security and law enforcement, according to Schmidt's colleague who notified the National Association of Chiefs of Police of the appointment on Monday.

The official announcement was made on Tuesday by President Obama.

Schmidt, a onetime patrol sergeant with the Chandler (Arizona) Police Department, accepted the No. 2 position at the Critical Infrastructure Protection Board in January 2002 . He had been contacted by the White House shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and said at the time that he "felt duty-bound to return to public service.

Schmidt served as an expert in cyber security under President George W. Bush's counter-terrorism advisor Richard Clarke and was considered as a replacement for Clarke by the Bush Administration. However, Schmidt stated he was retiring from government service after only 17 months and turned down the appointment.

Schmidt, the former chief security officer at Microsoft Corp., played a key role in drafting the Bush administration's "National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace," which was released Feb. 14, 2003.

"With the historic creation of the Department of Homeland Security, the transfer of many of the responsibilities from the Critical Infrastructure Protection Board to DHS and the release of the strategy, I have decided to retire after approximately 31 years of public service and return to the private sector," Schmidt wrote.

"While significant progress has been made, there still is much to do," he said at that time. "It is the role of industry to take the lead in the implementation of the strategy and the creation of the mosaic of security. To accomplish this will require real-time solutions, not just reports and plans that take years to implement [and] have limited value in dealing with the tremendous vulnerabilities that exist here and now. Each sector, each enterprise, each company and each user must do their part to secure their piece of cyberspace."

Now, under a new Commander in Chief, Schmidt is returning to the White House at a time when more than ever information systems are vulnerable to crime and terrorism.

Besides being a police sergeant, Schmidt's law enforcement career includes a stint as a Supervisory Special Agent with the US Air Force's Office of Special Investigations, and director of the Computer Forensics Lab, and the Computer Crime and Information Warfare Division.

Schmidt holds a bachelor's degree in business administration (BSBA) and a master's degree in organizational management (MAOM). He also holds an honorary doctorate degree in humane letters.

© Jim Kouri

 

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Jim Kouri

Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police... (more)

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