Think tank, lawmakers create U.S. cybersecurity commission

Group aims to create a list of recommendations for reducing cyberthreats to present to the next U.S. president

A Washington, D.C., think tank has launched a cybersecurity commission full of top experts in the field, with the goal of creating a list of recommendations for the next U.S. president.

The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) wants the commission to come up with a list of recommendations that the new president who takes office in January 2009 "can pick up and run with right away," said James Lewis, director of the CSIS Technology and Public Policy Program. The commission, made up of 32 cybersecurity experts, plans to finish its work by the end of 2008.

Co-chairmen of the commission are retired Admiral Bobby Inman, former director of the U.S. National Security Agency; Scott Charney, corporate vice president for trustworthy computing at Microsoft; U.S. Rep. Jim Langevin, a Rhode Island Democrat and chairman of the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Emerging Threats, Cyber Security and Science and Technology; and Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas, the ranking Republican on the subcommittee.

Cyberthreats against the United States are growing, and it's important for Congress and the next president to take action, Langevin said. In the past year, his committee has investigated hundreds of cyberbreaches within the U.S. government.

Langevin remains concerned about U.S. government networks, he said. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security reported 844 cybersecurity incidents in fiscal years 2005 and 2006, he noted.

When the lead agency for protecting the United States against cyberattacks has hundreds of vulnerabilities, "we've clearly reached an unacceptable situation," Langevin said.

The commission will expect action on its recommendations, added McCaul. He promised to push the recommendations in the cybersecurity subcommittee.

"The time is now for action," he said. "For any [presidential] administration, it'd be unwise to ignore that."

Among the members of the committee are three former cybersecurity directors at the White House Office of Management and Budget; former Federal Trade Commission member Orson Swindle; former DHS assistant secretary for cybersecurity Amit Yoran; former head of the U.S. Department of Justice computer crimes division Marty Stansell-Gamm; and executives with Oracle, EMC, Internet Security Systems, and Verizon Communications.

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