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White House appoints cybersecurity advisor
Published: 2009-12-22

The United States finally has its Cybersecurity Coordinator.

Six month after President Barack Obama pledged to appoint a cybersecurity advisor, the White House announced on Tuesday the appointment of former eBay Chief Security Strategist Howard Schmidt to the post.

"Howard will have regular access to the president and serve as a key member of his national security staff," John O. Brennan, assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism, said as part of the White House statement announcing the appointment. "He will also work closely with his economic team to ensure that our cybersecurity efforts keep the nation secure and prosperous."

The position marks a return to government for Schmidt.

In 1967, Schmidt joined the Air Force and served in a variety of capacities until 1983, when he joined the police force in Chandler, Arizona, according to an online biography. In 1994, he served as a computer-forensics investigator for the FBI's Drug Intelligence Center and has served in similar capacities for the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Army Reserves. He subsequently spent five years at Microsoft as the chief security strategist, leaving to join the Bush administration as Special Advisor to the President for Cybersecurity in 2001. He returned to the private sector in 2003, joining eBay as chief security strategist.

Since leaving eBay in 2005, Schmidt has worked in a number of different posts, including at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Many cybersecurity policy experts lauded the choice of Schmidt.

"Mr. Schmidt brings to the position his expertise in IT security, cybercrime, critical infrastructure protection and private sector risks related to cyber security," Rep. Yvette D. Clarke, D-NY, said in a statement. "I am pleased that the President was personally involved in the selection of Mr. Schmidt, and that he will have regular and direct access to the President for cybersecurity issues."

Clarke is the chairwoman of the House Committee on Homeland Security's Subcommittee on Emerging Threats, Cybersecurity and Science and Technology, which legislates many cybersecurity issues.

In May, the president released a review of the nation's cybersecurity policies and established the post of Cybersecurity Coordinator. Since then, numerous security professionals had refused the post, according media reports.

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Posted by: Robert Lemos
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