Cybersecurity AWOL in State of the Union

by. Eric Chabrow

President Obama, who emphasized cybersecurity in last year’s State of the Union address (see State of the Union: Cybersecurity Word Count), hardly mentioned it in this year’s speech before Congress.

But an administration spokeswoman says the passing reference to cybersecurity in the Jan. 28 address doesn’t mean information security isn’t an administration priority.

The thrust of the president’s address was the economy – an understandable focus. “The role of cybersecurity in improving the economy is not obvious to the average person, so it is not surprising that he would instead focus on issues that are more accessible, such as small businesses supporting the auto industry,” says Gene Spafford, executive director of Purdue University’s Center for Education and Research in Information Assurance and Security.

James Lewis, the cybersecurity expert at the think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies, says the president all but ignored other important matters regarding developments in Africa, Asia and the Middle East as well as nuclear disarmament. “One mention is better than none, which is what most of the world got,” he says.

The president’s lone mention of cybersecurity came as an addendum to a section of the speech that dealt with battling terrorists. “Here at home,” the president said, “we’ll keep strengthening our defenses, and combat new threats like cyber-attacks.”

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