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This administration must lead on cyber

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Patrick Gaul is executive director of the National Technology Security Coalition (NTSC)

The recent departure of Tom Bossert, coupled with the announcement that Rob Joyce would be returning to the NSA, leaves a major void in the White House that cannot go unattended.

Cyber represents the single greatest threat to our nation’s economic health over the next decade. We are being subjected to well thought out campaigns designed to infect our critical infrastructure, steal our intellectual property, cause financial chaos whenever possible, and undermine our very democracy.

The harsh reality is that America’s cyber adversaries are creating new norms in cyberspace, and they are doing so without experiencing any significant consequences for their actions.

Recently, United States Cyber Command signaled a potential shift from the previous “Doctrine of Restraint” articulated in the Department of Defense 2015 Cyber Strategy with the release of their new vision statement entitled “Achieve & Maintain Cyberspace Superiority.”

Additionally, to ensure the nation rallies around the notion of “collective defense,” which is being promoted by the Department of Homeland Security, the nation needs a cyber evangelist to guide the administration towards an understanding of the challenges, as well as the potential opportunities to redress the current state of cyber affairs.

The administration needs an executive who understands the value of a public/private partnership that unites the key stakeholders in a unified collaboration designed to change the cyber balance of power.

The cyber crisis facing America over the next decade cannot be met by a single federal agency, nor can our military cyber assets deal with the challenges alone, not when 90 percent of American’s critical infrastructure is privately owned and managed. Dealing with the next decade is going to take a collaboration across all sectors that has not been seen since WWII.

The president must guide this collaboration and to do so effectively, he is going to need an office within his administration that is staffed with the leading thinkers in cybersecurity. They cannot be solely technologists, nor can they be singularly focused on policy. This office needs to be a skunkworks, staffed with cyber technologists, a policy advisor, entrepreneurs, and a diplomatic advisor, all led by an experienced cyber professional who is respected by Congress as well as Silicon Valley.

This is not the time for the administration to retreat from the cyber leadership front. This the time for the administration to be bold, to be innovative, and to clearly announce to the country that this administration owns the Cyber Leadership Role!

Patrick D. Gaul is the Executive Director of the National Technology Security Coalition (NTSC), is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that serves as an advocacy voice for Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs) across the nation.


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