This week’s news that former National Cyber Security Center Director Rod Beckstrom was named as the newest president of ICANN – the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, the Net’s most influential governing body – is a very encouraging sign that we’re living in an era when issues of cyber-security are being given greater consideration than ever before, and with good reason, of course.
Just the fact that someone from the security sector has been elevated to lead ICANN, in a time when the organization is grappling with huge underlying problems related to improving cyber-culture – such as finding a better way to regulate domain registrars to address the spam-driven malware epidemic – has to be seen as a truly positive sign.
And if anyone is familiar with the struggles that face regulatory groups such as ICANN in addressing security challenges reaching across diverse, complex constituencies with many opposing viewpoints, someone like Beckstrom would seem a great pick. The former CEO and management guru eventually walked away from his post at the NCSC – which operates under the auspices of the Department of Homeland Security – after it became painfully clear that the effort did not have sufficient influence or funding to achieve its stated mandate.
When I had the chance to testify before Congress in April, the bulk of my remarks were aimed at citing inefficiencies existing in the manner in which a number of the cyber-security efforts operating under DHS were struggling for those same reasons. I’m not involved in ICANN in any direct way, but it’s been clear that over the years the group has struggled under many similar organizational issues that DHS is dealing with; namely, power struggles carried out among various fiefdoms vying to advance their own agendas without the guidance of a clear charter that allows them to coexist efficiently.
And when it comes to boosting ICANN’s ability to make headway in important matters of security – which include figuring out the best way to manage the planned increase of top-level domains while protecting the interests of businesses worldwide, normalizing domain name language disputes to address related phishing problems, and most importantly, addressing the role of the U.S. government in governing ICANN itself – there’s a lot of heavy lifting ahead.
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