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Securing cyberspace against war, terror and red tape

DHS's Greg Garcia in the hot seat

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Interview In September 2006, the US Secretary of Homeland Security appointed Greg Garcia assistant secretary for cybersecurity and telecommunications. With oversight for the National Cyber Security Division, the Office of Emergency Communications and the National Communications System, he is the federal government's point man for securing the nation's internet and telecommunications' systems against attacks from terrorists or countries that may target the US.

The Register sat down with him during the RSA security conference and a couple of things quickly became clear: One, he'd much prefer to see free market forces secure cyberspace than rely on the long arm of the government; and two, like the president he serves, he believes the execution of his duties is pretty much flawless.

El Reg: It's been about 18 months since you've been on the job. That's a nice number for report cards, or to check in and see how you're doing. In your judgment, what are your biggest accomplishments and what's the biggest failure or thing that you would have liked to accomplish that you haven't?

I think the biggest accomplishments so far are just the level of visibility that cyber security has taken on, not just in the DHS but across the government. I think the cyber initiative is the evidence of that. Leading up to that we had a number of very compelling accomplishments, the biggest of which was in May of last year we released the 17 sector specific plans as part of the national infrastructure protection plan.

This is where each of the critical sectors got together with their agency counterparts in the federal government, sat down side by side, two pens and a piece of paper and mapped out what commitments we are going to make collectively to do the national vulnerability assessment that's necessary across our networks and take the steps to mitigate them. That was a true illustration of the partnership model at work and that it's working. There were trust relationships built around that.

I think over the past 18 months I would look back and say the level of engagement of this partnership between the private sector and the public sector is I think a tremendous accomplishment.

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