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Howard Schmidt, cybersecurity 'czar': Who is he?

By Leigh Montgomery / December 22, 2009



President Obama on Tuesday selected Howard Schmidt to serve as the White House cybersecurity coordinator, or "cyber czar." An expert and pioneer in computer forensics, Mr. Schmidt was also an official in President George W. Bush’s administration. Schmidt has a four-decade career in technology and law enforcement, alternating between the government and private sector. Here are some facts about him.

Why does this matter?

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In May, Mr. Obama declared that securing computer networks would be a national security priority, because the US "digital infrastructure" is a "strategic national asset." The position has been vacant since acting senior director for cyberspace Melissa Hathaway resigned in August.

Professional background

President, Information Security Forum, a nonprofit consortium of 300 corporations and public-sector entities, September 2008 to present

Various consulting roles

Adjunct professor at the College of Computing at Georgia Tech, Georgia Tech Information Security Center (GTISC), 2005 to present

Vice president and chief information security officer and chief security strategist, eBay, 2003-05

Vice chairman of the President's Critical Infrastructure Protection Board, 2002-03

White House Special Adviser for Cyberspace Security, December 2001

Chief security officer, Microsoft Corp., 1997-2001

Director, Air Force Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI) Computer Forensic Lab and Computer Crime and Information Warfare Division, 1994-97

FBI, National Drug Intelligence Center, Computer Exploitation Team, 1994

Police officer, Chandler, Ariz., 1983-94

Education

Bachelor's degree in business administration (BSBA) and a master's degree in organizational management (MAOM) from the University of Phoenix

Military

US Army Reserves, special agent, Criminal Investigation Division, 1998 to present

Arizona Air National Guard, 1989-98

United States Air Force, (various roles, active duty to civil service), 1967-83

Vietnam veteran, three tours, 1968-74

Other facts

Originally from Philadelphia, Schmidt has had a longtime focus on technology. He built a computer in the mid-1970s, and had an early experience in a crime case involving technology when, as a police officer in 1989, he found details of a drug-smuggling ring stored on a pawn shop computer.

Raemarie Schmidt, his wife, is also a computer forensics expert and trainer. Mr. Schmidt enjoys fishing, ham radio, and Harley-Davidson motorcycles.

Sources: Georgia Tech, LinkedIn profile, WhiteHouse.gov, News & wire reports

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