Transparent Cybersecurity

Ed. Note: Learn more about the Administration's Cybersecurity efforts on our Cybersecurity page.

Today in my keynote speech at the RSA Conference in San Francisco I discussed two themes that are vital to our nation’s cybersecurity efforts:  partnerships and transparency.  These two themes go hand-in-hand.  You cannot have one without the other, and they form the foundation of nearly all of the action items outlined in the President’s Cyberspace Policy Review.

Howard A. Schmidt at RSA Conference

Cybersecurity Coordinator Howard A. Schmidt makes a point during his keynote speech at the RSA Conference in San Francisco on March 2, 2010. March 2, 2010. (by Steve Maller Photography)

Earlier this year in a memorandum on open government to all Federal departments and agencies, President Obama said, “My Administration is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in government.”  Building on this statement, I am personally dedicated to ensuring that the Federal Government’s cybersecurity efforts are as transparent as possible.

For this reason, I was pleased to announce today that the Obama Administration has revised the classification guidance for the Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative (or CNCI), which began in 2008 and forms an important component of cybersecurity efforts within the federal government.  Anyone can now view or download an unclassified description of the CNCI and each of the 12 initiatives under the CNCI.

Transparency is particularly vital in areas, such as the CNCI, where there have been legitimate questions about sensitive topics like the role of the intelligence community in cybersecurity.  Transparency provides the American people with the ability to partner with government and participate meaningfully in the discussion about how we can use the extraordinary resources and expertise of the intelligence community with proper oversight for the protection of privacy and civil liberties.

In order to be successful against today’s cybersecurity threats, we must continue to seek out innovative new partnerships—not only within government, but also among industry, government, and the American public.  Transparency improves our collective knowledge and helps bind our partnerships together to form the most powerful cyber tools that we have.  We will not defeat our cyber adversaries because they are weakening, we will defeat them by becoming collectively stronger, through stronger technology, a stronger cadre of security professionals, and stronger partnerships. 

Howard A. Schmidt is Special Assistant to the President and the Cybersecurity Coordinator

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