So let me give you a hypothetical job:
- You have to give up your high-paying private-sector job to be a Government employee
- You have tons of responsibility
- You have no real authority
- You have no dedicated budget
- You have no staffers
- The job has had half a dozen people filling it in the last 7 years
- The job has been open longer than it’s been staffed over the past 7 years
And yet this is what we’re asking candidates to do in order to even be a candidate for the Cybersecurity Coordinator. Yes, this is the exact same problem that all CISOs have with having a huge helping of responsibility and none of the authority to get things done, only we scaled it up and out to a national-level CISO position.
Somebody’s even gone as far to say that the lack of candidates for the job is the security field’s way of sending the message that you didn’t scope the job right. I think this opinion has much merit. CISOs being what they are, they’re usually pretty astute at walking into an ambush, and this job has all the makings of a good one.
I’ll even turn it around the other way and say that the security industry has yet to produce a CISO’s CISO–somebody who can do politics, budget, security, IT, and consensus-building all in one person. We have lots of people who can manage the enterprise and below, but it’s that additional little bit of political intrigue that is what we’re missing. Security people usually avoid politics like the bubonic plague because we’re an industry full of people who say it like it really is. This is a detriment in sales and politics.
So in true Guerilla-CISO fashion of not pointing out problems without offering something as a fix (no matter how much of a strawman arguement it really is), this is what we need to do to get people interested in being the Cybersecurity Czar^wCoordinator:
- A really well-defined scope. One person cannot do everything that we are asking for at this price (or any price for that matter).
- A budget for an operating staff where the number is more than than 8 digits.
- Statutory authority over the various departments and agencies responsible for cybersecurity: NCSD, S&T, DoJ, FBI, Commerce. Indirect influence doesn’t work here, never has.
- The direct ear of the President. Councils are OK, but puhlease, you want to get the job done, this is what it will take.
Then I read back through my list and realized that we really do need a law to create the Cybersecurity Czar position with everything that I just mentioned. But here’s the rub: legislation is slow, the bills to make the Cybersecurity Czar aren’t even going to be looked at until the next congressional session because we’re still trying to figure out the budget for last year.
I also think that what we’re calling the Cybersecurity Czar is really 2 jobs. You need somebody working for the Government CIO Vivek Kundra as the executive-branch CISO and you need a more senior person who worries about the military-industrial base, the critical infrastructure, the support to American commerce, and the protection of little old grandmas who represent the end-users.
Tsar’s Cannon photo by Siyad Ma. Now that’s some teeth for the position.