DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano addressed the public today on Cyber security via a Webcast from the DHS home page. Both her tone and substance was on the mark and badly needed.

She began by making it personal for the public at large. She deconstructed the threat from one of esoteric science fiction to one of real world, day-to-day personal problems. She emphasized that each citizen has a personal responsibility to protect themselves and their computers by using good security appliances. She called for increased cyber personal hygiene; the use of good passwords, staying away from questionable sites, and avoiding opening strange emails routinely. She called for parental actions as well as school programs to educate children on good cyber practices. As her first set of points, she correctly put the onus on individuals and families to be our first line of defense, not only for us as individuals, but for the nation.

She readily acknowledged the government’s role in leading this issue but called for greater engagement with the private sector. Napolitano was straightforward in noting that a majority of the creative solutions would come from industry, not government.

The Secretary should be congratulated for an appropriate and direct view that recognizes the things we can do today (personal hygiene), and the way to go forward (education and engaging the private sector). The national lead for Cyber Security should stay with DHS. Seemingly, they are the only ones working on this issue to make a difference for the nation. Well done, Madame Secretary.

Dr. Steven Bucci is director of the Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies at The Heritage Foundation. He was previously a lead consultant to IBM on cyber security policy. Bucci’s military and government service make him a recognized expert in the interagency process and defense of U.S. interests, particularly with regard to critical infrastructure and what he calls the productive interplay of government and the private sector. Read More