Governance & Risk Management

Howard Schmidt, White House Cybersecurity Coordinator

Howard Schmidt, in his first public appearance as White House cybersecurity coordinator, declared the Internet is more secure than in the recent past and said the government is working to assure emerging technologies such as cloud computing can be deployed in a secure fashion.

Schmidt, speaking at the Advisory Committee to the Congressional Internet Caucus' State of the Internet Conference in Washington, presented an optimistic assessment of the state of cybersecurity, though he didn't downplay the real threats that exist.

"I get asked this question all the time: are we more secure now than we were last year? Absolutely," he said. "We got newer versions of software from the browser community. We got many choices out there now. They pay a lot of attention to the vulnerabilities, and fix them quickly.

"That's not to suggest for a moment that we're sitting there with the most recent browsers that don't have any flaws. We continue to make those stronger. In reality, we identify (the flaws) and we make a much quicker turnaround in remediating those things."

As cybersecurity coordinator, Schmidt said his priorities include understanding and addressing threats, reducing vulnerabilities and deal with the consequences of virtual attacks. "While we can't stop the threat players out there, while we can only do so much to reduce vulnerabilities, we can take the step to make sure that we have steps in place to recover quickly from some of the things we might have to face someday," Schmidt said.

Schmidt, who started his job a week earlier, had a busy first week as cybersecurity adviser, meeting with key lawmakers, military brass and top government officials, including federal Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra and Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra.

"One of the things I was tremendously impressed from the first time I met with both of them individually is that the discussion was not about security - you guys are a problem for us; we need to grow our technology at all cost," Schmidt said. "It was very deliberate, very sincere in saying, yes, all three of us love the technology, but the technology needs to move forward being more secure, better technology and better protection of our privacy. And, that's how three of us will work."

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