Short list emerges for cybersecurity czar job

The first reports of the short list for the job of federal cybersecurity coordinator are beginning to trickle out, and while some of the names are all too familiar, many others are quite new to the national scene.

The first reports of the short list for the job of federal cybersecurity coordinator are beginning to trickle out, and while some of the names are all too familiar, many others are quite new to the national scene.

The most well-known name on the list, as reported by Reuters, is that of Scott Charney, the head of security at Microsoft. Charney’s resume would seem to be a perfect fit for the position, and his name has been mentioned in certain circles in connection with similar federal positions in the past. He’s a former head of the Justice Department’s computer crime section and also spent time at PricewaterhouseCoopers working on computer crime, so he knows his way around Washington, he knows the technology and he knows all of the players in the industry.

The only problem is, Charney has already done his time inside the Beltway, and given his prime position at Microsoft, it seems unlikely that he’d reenlist for another tour in Washington. It would mean a huge pay cut for a short-term job that many others have found to be unworkable. My money would not be on Charney.

The other familiar name on the list is Paul Kurtz. If you’ve been involved in the security industry in any capacity during the last 10 years, you’ve likely run across Kurtz at some point. A former member of the National Security Council and the President’s Critical Infrastructure Protection Board, Kurtz worked on security issues under both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush and also has experience in the State Department. Kurtz is a consultant on security issues now, and played a large part in developing the National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace in 2003. 

Like Charney, Kurtz knows the ins and outs of the Washington game and knows a whole lot of the right people in the industry. He also advised President Obama on cybersecurity issues during his transition, so he has a feel for the way the new administration works. Kurtz’s name has come up in this discussion before, and it wouldn’t be surprising at all to see him get the job.

The group of lesser-known candidates that Reuters mentions has some intriguing people on it, including Tom Davis, a former House member from Virginia; Susan Landau of Sun; Maureen Baginski, formerly of the NSA and FBI; and Frank Kramer, a former Clinton-era defense official. 

Word is that Obama is interested in bringing in someone who commands respect both in Washington and in the outside world, which would seem to narrow this list quite a bit. I’d make Kurtz the favorite from this list, but it wouldn’t be a complete surprise to see Davis or even Charney take the job, either.

 

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