Security Experts:

America's First Cyber Czar Howard Schmidt Set to Retire

In December of 2009, after months of waiting, the Obama Administration named Howard Schmidt as the White House Cybersecurity Coordinator. After more than forty years in the IT community, the former head of the Information Security Forum and the nation’s first cyber czar will retire at the end of the month.

Schmidt, after just over 2 years of government service, said that he would retire in order to spend more time with his family and to entertain teaching opportunities in the cyber field.

Howard Schmidt to RetireSchmidt was at the reigns when the White House introduced its international strategy for cyberspace, including the fact that hostile acts in cyberspace directed towards assets within the nation would be addressed in the same fashion any other threats directed towards the country are – with “all necessary means,” including military action.

He also helped create the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace, an initiative that would allow people to obtain a single credential as a onetime-password (on a token or mobile device) to do business on the Internet.

NSTIC would create an ecosystem where different credential providers would provide users with technology that is more secure than the typical authentication methods used today. NSTIC is also designed to allow multiple credentials to be obtained and used for various purposes, depending on the transaction.

"It's something we should accomplish relatively easily," Schmidt said in an interview with GovInfoSecurity.com.

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"The technology exists today. Everybody wants to have an easier time managing their identities, so this is something we said would be a good way to do it, something that private sector can sort of take a lead on this, and help us build this ecosystem."

However, funding for the initiative is on shaky ground.

General Keith Alexander, director of the NSA and head of the U.S. Cyber Command, said in a statement that Schmidt made a difference during his tenure.

“[His leadership] has made a difference both within the federal government and throughout the nation, and he will be missed.”

Schmidt will be replaced by Michael Daniel, currently the head of the White House budget office’s intelligence branch, the Washington Post reported. Daniel is said to be a good pick, mostly because of the 17 years he has been with the OMB, ten of them were spent focused on cybersecurity.

Related Reading: Why The Cybersecurity Act of 2012 Needs To Be More Robust

Steve Ragan is a security reporter and contributor for SecurityWeek. Prior to joining the journalism world in 2005, he spent 15 years as a freelance IT contractor focused on endpoint security and security training.