ARLINGTON, Va. -- The Cyber Security Industry Alliance (CSIA) today called on the Department of Homeland Security to demonstrate stronger leadership on cyber security by filling the position of Assistant Secretary for Cyber Security and Telecommunications that was created one year ago this week.
"While the Department of Homeland Security clearly has had a lot of very important priorities to manage, it is troubling that after an entire year, we still have not seen this crucial position filled," said Paul Kurtz, executive director of CSIA. "This is not a simple personnel issue. It is indicative of the ongoing lack of attention being paid to cyber security at the most senior levels of government. Without strong federal leadership, our national information infrastructure remains at risk with no one clearly in charge of coordinating its security and reliability."
Secretary Michael Chertoff announced the creation of the Assistant Secretary for Cyber Security and Telecommunications position on July 13, 2005 as part of a six-point agenda to realign the Department's policies, operations and structures to better address potential threats. The agenda was created after the Second Stage Review, a careful study of the Department's programs, policies, operations and structure.
According to the Department's agenda, the new Assistant Secretary for Cyber Security and Telecommunications would be responsible for "identifying and assessing the vulnerability of critical telecommunications infrastructure and assets; providing timely, actionable and valuable threat information; and leading the national response to cyber and telecommunications attacks."
"Critical information infrastructure underpins our economy and national security and yet just last month the Business Roundtable issued a report stating that our nation is not prepared to handle a major cyber disruption. It is simply not acceptable that our government does not have a high-level, dedicated position to oversee the prevention, response and recovery from threats to our information infrastructure," said Kurtz. "There is no shortage of qualified candidates to serve as Assistant Secretary, just as there is no shortage of hackers eager to wreak havoc on our information infrastructure and national economy. Until we fill this position and address other shortcomings of our national cyber security program, we will continue to live on borrowed time. The Department of Homeland Security took a great step forward in recognizing the need for an Assistant Secretary in charge of cyber security and telecommunications, but the time for action is long overdue."