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Obama Set to Create a Cybersecurity Czar With Broad Mandate

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defense analyst Daniel Ragoza

Defense analyst Daniel Ragoza investigates intrusions into military and contractors' networks.

Ellen Nakashima / The Washington Post

U.S. President Barack Obama is expected to announce that he will create a cyberczar position, adding a senior White House official who will have broad authority to develop strategy to protect the U.S.'s government-run and private computer networks, sources say. The advisor will have the most comprehensive mandate ever granted to such an official, and will likely be a member of the National Security Council, although the cyberczar will report to the national security adviser as well as the senior White House economic adviser.

The announcement of the czar will coincide with the release of a 40-page report that evaluates the government's cybersecurity initiatives and policies. The report is meant to highlight the strategic vision and the variety of threats the new advisor must handle, though it will not provide details. The report also will not resolve the dispute over what role the National Security Agency will have in protecting private-sector networks, which includes the protection of citizens' emails and phone calls.

By having the cyberczar report to both the national security and economic advisers suggests that the White House is aiming to ensure a balance between homeland security and economic concerns, and to prevent cybersecurity efforts from unduly threatening economic growth.

The report says that although protecting private networks is a key government responsibility, regulation should be a last resort. The report suggests public-private partnerships to protect non-governmental systems, and discusses the need to provide incentives for greater data sharing and risk management.

From The Washington Post
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