Napolitano Seeks Private-Sector Infosec Help

DHS Chief Unveils Cybersecurity Awareness Campaign Competition
Napolitano Seeks Private-Sector Infosec Help
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano made a pitch to private-sector IT security professionals for their talent and ideas to partner with the government to secure the nation's IT systems and educate the public about cybersecurity awareness.

In a keynote address delivered Wednesday at RSA 2010 Conference in San Francisco, Napolitano picked up on a theme voiced Tuesday by White House Cybersecurity Coordinator Howard Schmidt that protecting cybersecurity can only be accomplished through the government, the private sector and citizens working together.

"We need to have an ongoing, two-way conversation, an ongoing two-way effort between public and private sector; we need to have an ongoing, multifaceted efforts with the public at large," Napolitano said. "We have to recognize we have different audiences who we're speaking with when were talking about cybersecurity."

To accomplish that goal, Napolitano announced the National Cybersecurity Awareness Campaign Challenge Competition to solicit ideas from industry and individuals on how best to advance cybersecurity awareness with the American public.

"Beyond the technical and government side of cybersecurity," Napolitano said, "I can't stress enough a really secure cyber environment is as much about people and habits and culture as it is about machines, because even the most elegant technological solution will ultimately fail unless it has the support of talented professionals and a public that understands how to stay safe when online."

At one point in her speech, glancing around the room of several thousand RSA attendees, as if she were searching for the right person to hire, Napolitano said the government needs the skills of IT security professionals now employed by businesses. She referred to efforts headed by Deputy Undersecretary Philip Reitinger by Homeland Security to hire 1,000 IT security professionals over the next three years.

"Phil is moving aggressively to build one of the best cybersecurity teams anywhere, culling talent from within the federal government, but also with new authority to hire top professionals from the private sector form outside the government, "Napolitano said. "In fact, we may try to recruit some of you or your talent right now. We need it, we need it. This is a huge public interest for our country; we need the best brains to bring to bear on meeting the challenge."

About the Author

Eric Chabrow

Eric Chabrow

Host & Producer, ISMG Security Report; Executive Editor, GovInfoSecurity & InfoRiskToday

Chabrow hosts and produces the semi-weekly podcast ISMG Security Report and oversees ISMG's GovInfoSecurity and InfoRiskToday. He's a veteran multimedia journalist who has covered information technology, government and business.

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