Howard Schmidt was named as the White House's cybersecurity coordinator on Tuesday, a job that was reportedly difficult to fill as the U.S. strengthens its computer security defense.
The appointment marks a return to government for Schmidt, who left his job as vice chairman of former President George W. Bush's Critical Infrastructure Protection Board in April 2003, saying he was retiring from government service to join the private sector.
As President Obama has said, this cyber threat represents one of the most serious economic and national security challenges we face as a nation," Schmidt said in a video statement on the White House's Web site.
Schmidt will be responsible for creating a U.S network security strategy that encompasses protocols for ensuring a unified response to cybersecurity incidents. He also will be in charge of strengthening partnerships between government and business, the research and development of next-generation technology and a national campaign for cybersecurity awareness.
Because there is no cabinet for cybersecurity, the cybersecurity czar will have whatever powers he and Obama deem him to have.
Don't get me wrong. Cybersecurity is a growing threat. That's why the FBI has a special division dedicated only to this. All sorts of law enforcement have set their sights on cybersecurity. Will all of them now ultimately report to the Cybersecurity Czar? If not, what power will he have?
This is yet another example of President Obama's growing list of advisors and policy makers that stand outside the government bureaucracy and operate in their own shadow government.