Beckstrom's resignation is sure to focus attention on a 60-day review of national cybersecurity efforts now under way by Melissa Hathaway, a Bush administration official, at the behest of President Barack Obama. Hathaway has been working as a cybercoordination executive for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence Comprehensive National Cyber Security Initiative CNCI.
The CNCI is a highly classified multi-billion-dollar cybersecurity initiative approved by then-President George W. Bush early last year. Hathaway has been in charge of coordinating and monitoring CNCI's implementation and was recently asked by President Obama to do a complete review of CNCI and other government-wide cybersecurity initiatives.
Beckstrom's resignation is likely to force Hathaway to address the issue of who should run the government's overall national cybersecurity efforts. Even before Beckstrom's announcement, questions had arisen about the idea of letting the NSA taking the lead on cybersecurity issues. At a Congressional hearing as far back as February 2008, lawmakers had expressed concern about the NSA's role in CNCI, especially because of the classified nature of the initiative.
In December, a panel of security experts from the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) delivered a set of cybersecurity recommendations for the Obama administration explicitly calling on the White House to take overall charge of cyber initiatives, not the NSA.
Computerworld is an InfoWorld affiliate.