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White House Taps Cyber Security Czar

There are doubts about Schmidt's authority and the adequacy of his budget

Right before Christmas, the White House tapped Microsoft’s long-ago chief security officer, the CEO of the non-profit Information Security Forum Howard Schmidt as head of US cyber security.

Despite the national priority, between pressure from US companies and reported infighting among bureaucrats, it took 10 months for the Obama administration to find someone who would take the job of dealing with millions of attacks a day on government and military systems – including hacks by Russia, China and terrorist interceptions of drone video feeds – as well as increasing financial losses to phishing schemes and Internet thefts like the reported multimillion-dollar one pulled off by the Russian mafia at Citigroup.

President Obama & White House Cyber Security Chief Howard Schmidt

President Barack Obama greets his new White House Cyber Security Chief Howard A. Schmidt in the Cross Hall of the White House. December 17, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

Schmidt is supposed to be “one the world’s leading authorities on computer security, with some 40 years of experience in government, business and law enforcement,” according to a White House blog. He will have regular access to the president, who was reportedly involved in his selection, and serve as a member of his national security staff.

He’ll report to the National Security Council and interact with White House economics experts.

Schmidt was recently VP of security at eBay and served as vice-chairman of the Bush administration’s Critical Infrastructure Protection Board after 9/11, a job the Washington Post says he found “frustrating.”

More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

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