Cyber Czar's Identity to be a Mystery a Little Longer

Posted by: Keith Epstein on May 28, 2009

With the computer security and intel world abuzz over President Obama’s long-awaited decision on new authority for a “cyber czar,” a White House source tells BusinessWeek that the new czar won’t actually be named when Obama speaks at about 10:55 a.m. May 29.

To be sure, Obama will describe the threats the country faces, and the report by his interim cyber czar, the Bush Administration’s Department of National Intelligence cybersecurity official Melissa Hathaway. It’s been widely reported that Obama is expected to endorse the findings of Hathawway, a former Booz Allen Hamilton consultant. But he’ll still be evaluating a short list and weighing his options for some time to come, the source says.

The administration apparently is seeking someone with unassailable “gravitas” for the mission, which could mean a high-profile name. To date, the most oft-mentioned candidates have been Hathaway, Paul Kurtz, and author Rod Beckstrom. “The role has been defined,” says the White House source. “The search for the appropriate candidate is ongoing.”

One hangup has been the question of authority and chain of command - for instance, whether the cyber czar should be a senior deputy to the National Security Council or work as part of the science or economic team. Obama has apparently settled that issue and will make it plain May 29. And when he does, people will get a better sense of just how urgent he views the threats to private and public computer networks.

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Bloomberg Businessweek writers Peter Burrows, Cliff Edwards, Olga Kharif, Aaron Ricadela, and Douglas MacMillan, dig behind the headlines to analyze what’s really happening throughout the world of technology. Tech Beat covers everything from tech bellwethers like Apple, Google, and Intel and emerging new leaders such as Facebook to new technologies, trends, and controversies.

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