Speaking to a group of engineering students at the University of California, Berkley, this week, Department of Homeland Security secretary Janet Napolitano asserted that security in cyber space can only be achieved through the combined effort of the private and public sectors.
“All of us, from the most casual users to the most highly trained experts, share in the responsibility to learn about cybersecurity and to do more, individually and collectively,” Napolitano said.
Napolitano compared cyber space to any library, school yard or neighborhood; while government certainly has a hand in ensuring those places remain safe, it is also up to the citizens to keep a close eye on any suspicious activity. The same is true for the Internet. According to Napolitano, both sides must take responsibility to make cyber space safe and ensure data protection.
And while Napolitano’s message was a high-profile one, she certainly isn’t the first government official to call for collaboration between government and the public in terms of Internet security.
Speaking at the RSA Conference in San Francisco in February, Department of Defense deputy defense secretary William Lynn said there is only so much the government can do to protect cyber space. The private sector, he asserted, will have to step up to provide additional security.
“Cyber defense is not a military mission, like defending our airspace, where the sole responsibility lies with the military,” Lynn said. “The overwhelming percentage of our nation’s critical infrastructure – including the Internet itself – is largely in private hands. It is going to take a public-private partnership to secure our networks.”
Napolitano’s comments come on the heels of a recent announcement by the White House in which it introduced the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace. The strategy, though still in its early stages, seeks to bolster consumer confidence and prevent fraud by establishing more effective data and identify controls. If effective, the White House said, NSTIC will help strengthen the economy.