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White House Plans Strategy for Better Cyber Authentication

The Obama administration plans to release late this week a draft of a new national strategy for improving capabilities to identify and authenticate people, organizations and infrastructure in cyberspace, the White House's top cyber official said today.

The National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace document will lay out goals and objectives to allow for laws, policies and programs to improve the trustworthiness of digital identities in cyberspace, said Howard Schmidt, the White House's cyber coordinator. Schmidt said the document, now in its second version, would be released June 25 for public comment.

Schmidt, speaking during at the Symantec Government Symposium held in Washington, said that the strategy was called for by the Obama administration's review of cyber policy that was completed last year. The strategy builds on work the government has done in identity management under Homeland Security Presidential Directive-12. He also said it recognizes the need to educate users of computer systems.

The strategy cannot exist in isolation and it's going to take a commitment to security, he added. "We can't do this in isolation, we've got to work together to design this system," Schmidt said emphasizing the need for government and industry to collaborate on the effort.

Schmidt said improving identification in cyberspace will involve working with industry to design an ecosystem for identities in cyberspace, build it and then manage it. He said officials anticipate the strategy will lead to:

  • Improved identity solutions and reduced online identity theft
  • Better overall online experience
  • Online innovation and
  • Reduced costs.

Schmidt said identity solutions for cyberspace need to be:

  • Secure and desirable
  • Interoperable and federated
  • Privacy-enhancing and voluntary and
  • Cost-effective and easy to use.

The administration will use Web 2.0 technologies to gather feedback from people on the draft strategy, Schmidt said. After that process, President Barack Obama will review the strategy and make a final decision on it.

"As we prepare this we want to make sure that we have every view point possible in pulling this together," Schmidt said, adding that the goal is to have Obama sign the document this fall.

About the Author

Ben Bain is a reporter for 1105 Media.

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