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Who Will Obama Name As Cyberspace Czar?

December 11, 2008 Leave a comment Go to comments

If president-elect Barack Obama heeds the advice of a blue-ribbon IT security panel, he’ll create a new White House office for cyberspace to be headed by an adviser charged with coordinating the computer security efforts of federal departments and agencies.

In other words, a Cyber Czar.

But who would fill the role envisioned in the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) commission’s recent 96-page report, “Securing Cyberspace for the 44th Presidency?” ChannelWeb runs down the list of potential candidates for Cyber Czar.


John Thompson, CEO of Symantec (NSDQ:SYMC). Thompson’s timing couldn’t be more perfect. The CEO of Cupertino, Calif.-based Symantec is stepping down next March after 10 years at the helm of the market-leading security software vendor. Thompson has the private sector connections valued by the CSIS commission as well as the experience of managing a top-notch team of IT security researchers and problem-solvers. His name has already been thrown around as a potential candidate for Obama’s proposed Chief Technology Officer position, but a specific cybersecurity role seems more suited to Thompson’s talents.


Richard Clarke, former chief counter-terrorism adviser on the NSC. Could the outspoken critic of the Bush administration be the first person to hold two separate “czarships” in the federal government? A fairly divisive figure, Clarke became a Democratic darling for bashing the Bush team’s handling of intelligence prior to the September 11 terrorist attacks, but has kept his name in the spotlight with a series of talks and think pieces on future terrorism, including cyberterrorism.


Howard Schmidt, president of the Information Security Forum. Schmidt’s Cyber Czar credentials are a mile long — He’s served in prominent cybersecurity roles in government as well as putting in stints as a Chief Security Officer and Chief Information Security Officer at such corporate IT giants as eBay (NSDQ:EBAY) and Microsoft (NSDQ:MSFT), where he co-founded the Trustworthy Computing Security Strategies Group now led by another Cyber Czar candidate, Scott Charney.


Scott Charney, head of Microsoft’s Trustworthy Computing Group. If anybody has an inside track on the new Cyber Czar job recommended by the CSIS commission, it’s probably the guy who was one of four co-chairs on that commission. Charney brings a lot to the table — before joining Microsoft, he led the Cybercrime Prevention and Response Practice at PricewaterhouseCoopers. Prior to entering the private sector, he was chief of the Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section in the Criminal Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, taking part in the prosecution of nearly every major hacker case in the country from 1991 to 1999.

Next: A New Powell Doctrine?

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