White House begins comprehensive cybersecurity quest

Wednesday - 12/7/2011, 9:04am EST

By Michael O'Connell
Federal News Radio

The White House launched a new chapter in its epic quest for comprehensive cybersecurity on Tuesday, with the release of its strategic plan for cybersecurity research and development. Federal chief technology officer Aneesh Chopra joined White House cyber coordinator Howard Schmidt in releasing the plan.

Titled Trustworthy Cyberspace: Strategic Plan for the Federal Cybersecurity Research and Development Program, the plan spells out a research and development program aimed at improving trustworthiness on the Internet.

Early in his presidency, President Barack Obama ordered a review of the government cybersecurity from top to bottom, which was outlined in his Cyberspace Policy Review. One of the themes in that document was "the status quo is no longer acceptable" because the security of the IT was no longer trustworthy.

"Given the magnitude and pervasiveness of cyberspace threats to our economy and national security, it is imperative that we fundamentally alter the dynamics in cybersecurity through the development of novel solutions and technologies," Chopra and Schmidt wrote in a press release.

The new plan was developed under the leadership of the National Science and Technology Council's Networking and Information Technology Research and Development (NITRD) Program. It calls for boosting cybersecurity research and development in four areas:

  1. Inducing Change - The plan calls for utilizing "game-changing themes to understand the root causes of existing cybersecurity deficiencies. The goal will be to change the status quo.

  2. Developing Scientific Foundations - By developing the science around security, the plan aims to minimize future cybersecurity problems.

  3. Maximizing Research Impact - Federal agencies should pool their efforts to maximize effectiveness.

  4. Accelerating Transition to Practice -The process of improving cyberspace should be expedited, from research through transition.
In addition, the plan has four main R&D themes: designed-in security, tailored trustworthy spaces, moving target and cyber economic incentives.

According to the plan, the themes are designed "to encourage an adversarial perspec­tive in the conduct of research and in endeavors that closely examine the security, reliability, resil­iency, privacy, usability, and overall trustworthiness of digital infrastructure."

This story is part of Federal News Radio's daily Cybersecurity Update. For more cybersecurity news, click here.