Obama to name cybersecurity chief to combat online attacks

obama and schmidtPresident Obama is expected to name Howard A. Schmidt as the nation’s cybersecurity chief on Tuesday, according to published reports.

Schmidt’s job will be to coordinate the nation’s so-far woefully inadequate security in both military and civilian circles. This year has been another banner year for cybercriminals, who have been looting online banks and stealing identities through a variety of tactics.

Schmidt’s position is a new one that was called for after the Obama administration did a study on the growing problems related to electronic warfare and cybercrime. Schmidt is a seasoned industry executive who also served as a cybersecurity advisor in the Bush administration. Schimidt is chief executive of the nonprofit computer security trade group Information Security Forum. He also worked as head of information security at eBay and chief security officer at Microsoft. He also worked in computer security for the Air Force, the Army, and the FBI.

He will report to the National Security Council, according to the New York Times. Previously, it was expected that the cybersecurity chief would also report to the National Economic Council, in a nod to the civilian side of the problem. It took a long time for the administration to make the appointment, which was called for in May after an initial study of the cybercrime problem.

The New York Times also reported earlier this year that the U.S. and Russia were engaged in talks about some kind of limitation on the use of electronic warfare.

[Photo credit: New York Times, White House photo]