Former DHS Secretary Praises New Government Cyber Identities Plan

By John Wagley

WASHINGTON - A recently announced Obama Administration plan to develop new and more secure online authentication methods is a much-needed development in securing cyberspace, according to Michael Chertoff, former Department of Homeland Security secretary.

Speaking at this week’s Visa Global Security Summit in Washington, Chertoff also urged more public and private sector cooperation in fighting cybercrime, emphasizing that a broad range of solutions, tested through trial-and-error, will be needed to combat cyberthreats.

Answering questions after his speech, Chertoff said the Obama administration’s new National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace, which aims to develop new authentication solutions that would also consolidate numerous login credentials, comes at a time when passwords and similar authentication methods may be headed towards obsolescence.

Such methods are supposed to be secure and secret, but the more they’re used, particularly when accessing multiple user accounts, the weaker they become, said Chertoff, now chairman of the Chertoff Group, a risk management and security consulting firm.

The initiative—which will bring together industry groups, the Commerce Department, and other public- and private-sector organizations—is also a good example of how government can be effective in bringing widely differing organizations together to develop new security standards and technologies, he said.

But much more public/private sector cooperation is needed, said Chertoff. Both sides have significant experiences and capabilities that can greatly assist the other. Government strengths include law enforcement powers, intelligence, and experience from worldwide investigations.


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