Citing Mumbai, Obama creates top job for cyber security

By Arun Kumar, IANS,

Washington : Citing the use of GPS and internet phones in the Mumbai terror attack as “the future face of war”, President Barack Obama has created a cyber security czar to secure America’s digital infrastructure.

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“Our technological advantage is a key to America’s military dominance. But our defence and military networks are under constant attack,” he said, announcing Friday the post of a cyber security coordinator to oversee “a new comprehensive approach to securing America’s digital infrastructure”.

“Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups have spoken of their desire to unleash a cyber attack on our country, attacks that are harder to detect and harder to defend against.” The country is not adequately prepared to defend against a possible “weapon of mass disruption”.

“Indeed, in today’s world, acts of terror could come not only from a few extremists in suicide vests but from a few key strokes on the computer – a weapon of mass disruption.

“And last year we had a glimpse of the future face of war,” Obama said. “The terrorists that sowed so much death and destruction in Mumbai relied not only on guns and grenades but also on GPS and phones using voice-over-the-Internet.”

Describing cyber threat as “one of the most serious economic and national security challenges we face as a nation”, Obama said he will personally select the person who takes on the new post.

“I’ll depend on this official in all matters relating to cyber security, and this official will have my full support and regular access to me as we confront these challenges,” he said.

“From now on … the networks and computers we depend on every day will be treated as they should be: as a strategic national asset,” Obama said. “Protecting this infrastructure will be a national security priority.”

The economic crisis cannot be tackled without ensuring the safety of the nation’s online activities, Obama said. “America’s economic prosperity in the 21st century will depend on cyber security.”

Obama’s announcement followed a 60-day review of the government’s cyber security efforts, conducted by the National Security Council and Homeland Security Council.

The military has said it was working to create a Cyber Command. In April, Defence Secretary Robert Gates said the command would initially be under the US Strategic Command.

The president is expected, within weeks, to sign a classified order officially creating the command, CNN reported citing defence officials.