The White House official tasked with coordinating the country’s response to cyber threats said Wednesday that the risk of such attacks is often overblown.
Howard Schmidt, the White House cybersecurity coordinator, told National Journal that a few sensational events make the overall cyber threat seem worse than it really is.
“It’s still a situation where specific incidents make it something it’s not,” he said. “Things make headlines that are just the risk of doing business in many cases.”
On Tuesday, Sony announced that hackers stole reams of personal information on 77 million Playstation Network accounts. Last month the Epsilon marketing company lost information on 250 million people to a cyber attack.
But, Schmidt said, compared to other, more traditional crimes, attacks in cyberspace remain rare. He said there had been some successes, although he gave no details.
That being said, Schmidt added, the relatively low risk doesn’t mean the problem should be ignored.
Despite concerns by some analysts that the White House cybersecurity office lacks the authority or resources needed to do the job, Schmidt said he has been given everything he needs and is meeting provisions in the Cyberspace Policy Review, among other goals.
While “the government has to do what it can to secure our own systems,” Schmidt said, the broader effort to secure networks and information must be managed by both the government and industry.
“It’s all government, all private sector,” he said. “It’s what we refer to as a shared responsibility.”
This article appears in the April 28, 2011, edition of NJ Daily.