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President Obama has ordered a wide-ranging review of the US's cybersecurity defences.

The 60-day exercise promises a root and branch review of the state of US cyber security efforts that is likely to result in major revisions of how the US responds to threats from hackers, malware and foreign intelligence agencies. Obama, who placed some emphasis on the importance of protecting key infrastructure system from electronic attack while campaigning, has taken this resolve into government.

The Bush administration cybersecurity efforts were criticised by a number of independent reports, pushing the importance of cybersecurity higher up both the political agenda and President Obama's to-do list.

The US Government Accountability Office criticised the Department of Homeland Security last September for failing to "satisfy its cybersecurity responsibilities", while a congressional panel warned in November that cyber-espionage efforts from China posed a growing economic and information security threat.

Obama's cybersecurity review is being manged by Melissa Hathaway, who worked for the director of national intelligence in a senior cyber-security role under George Bush. She will serve as acting senior director for cyberspace for the National Security and Homeland Security councils during the review period.

A Whitehouse statement explains the review will cover the "plan, programs, and activities underway throughout the government dedicated to cybersecurity", adding:

This 60-day interagency review will develop a strategic framework to ensure that U.S. Government cybersecurity initiatives are appropriately integrated, resourced and coordinated with Congress and the private sector.

John Brennan, assistant to the President for counterterrorism and homeland security, said: "The national security and economic health of the United States depend on the security, stability, and integrity of our nation's cyberspace, both in the public and private sectors."

"The President is confident that we can protect our nation’s critical cyber infrastructure while at the same time adhering to the rule of law and safeguarding privacy rights and civil liberties," he added. ®

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