Why the White House’s cyber commission is asking the public for advice

Former NSA and Cyber Comm chief Keith Alexander

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The White House’s Commission on Enhancing National Cybersecurity is launching a public plea for help Wednesday in understanding the “current and future states of cybersecurity in the digital economy.”

The commission — comprised by prominent academics, former officials and industry luminaries that effectively serve as voluntary cybersecurity consultants to the President — will release a request for information, or RFI, soliciting public comment tomorrow, according to a Federal Register notice.

“The commission expects to be soliciting public input through a variety of mechanisms,” including the RFI, Herbert Lin, a member of the 12-person commission and a senior research scholar for cyber policy and security at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, wrote in an email to FedScoop:

“Regardless of whether the next U.S President is Republican nominee Donald Trump or his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, whoever controls the Oval Office on Dec. 1 will receive a detailed set of recommendations from the commission regarding how to best approach digital security from a long-term policy standpoint.”

“The commission will make detailed recommendations to strengthen cybersecurity in both the public and private sectors,” the notice reads.

The White House’s cyber commission — which includes former NSA chief Keith Alexander and one-time national security adviser Tom Donilon — is seeking input from the U.S. cybersecurity community regarding important vulnerabilities, information about ongoing threats and best practices associated with protecting critical infrastructure and the Internet of Things, or IoT.

Additionally, according to the Federal Register notice, the group will look to compile research which may in the future help the U.S. grow its cyber workforce; streamline identity and access management protocols; raise public awareness about cybersecurity risks; better understanding the still-nascent cyber insurance market; and improve cooperation between federal, state and local parties on cybersecurity-related matters.

For each topic of focus in the RFI, the commission is requesting specific information about trends being seen, obstacles affecting business and what different groups believe the federal government should do to help private industry overcome future security challenges.

Comments and other input for the RFI will be due on September 9 by 5 p.m. to the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

News of the pending request comes after the commission already hosted four public workshops to gather input from various stakeholders, including industry representatives and professional associations. The next stakeholder meeting is scheduled for Aug. 23 and will take place in Minneapolis, where the group will discuss cybersecurity challenges faced by the retail industry.

The request for comment is the first RFI filed by the commission since it was created in February as part of the President’s National Cybersecurity National Action Plan.

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Critical Infrastructure, cybersecurity national action plan, Donald Trump, Government IT News, Hillary Clinton, White House