Security professionals form CSO council

A group of information security professionals has formed the Global Council of Chief Security Officers (CSOs) in an effort to better address online security challenges.

The council was formally unveiled Wednesday at an event in San Francisco hosted by a founding member, eBay Inc.’s chief information security officer (CISO), Howard Schmidt, who has also served as White House cybersecurity adviser and Microsoft Corp.’s CSO.

The group seeks to improve online security by bringing together expertise from academic, corporate and government backgrounds, according to a statement announcing the council. Although all initial members are U.S.-based experts, the council is open to others, an eBay spokesperson said yesterday.

One of the goals of the organization is to foster a better partnership between the private sector and the government on cybersecurity issues, Schmidt said during a teleconference Wednesday afternoon to discuss the organization’s efforts.

“We are bringing together selective expertise from the private sector, academia and the government to continue the dialogue and to make sure that (cybersecurity) remains a Tier 1 issue,” he said. “We plan to use the collective expertise of all the members of the council to really continue the momentum we have seen over the last couple of years” as it relates to cybersecurity initiatives.

The new group represents a good balance between the technology sector and consumers of technology, said Mary Ann Davidson, CSO at Oracle Corp. “I think that balance will be a particularly important factor to success,” she said.

The council will work as a professional organization, bringing together information security professionals so they can better define their roles and work on the issues that are part of the online world, the eBay spokesperson said. “Cybersecurity is an evolving space. You need to stay ahead of the game,” he said.

Among the initial 10 council members is Scott Charney, chief security strategist at Microsoft.

“To address the issues that are presented in the modern cybersecurity arena, you really need actions across the spectrum. It is critical for businesses to band together,” said Philip Reitinger, senior security strategist at Microsoft and a member of Charney’s staff.

“We all have to recognize that cybersecurity is not just a technical issue or government issue; it is a management issue,” Reitinger said. “CSOs have a critical responsibility for providing the security of the IT infrastructure of businesses. Getting such a group together can further secure those businesses and generally secure infrastructure across the board.”

Other charter council members are Bill Boni, CISO at Motorola Inc.; Vinton Cerf, senior vice-president of technology strategy at MCI (WorldCom Inc.); Dave Cullinane, CISO at Washington Mutual Inc.; Mary Ann Davidson, CSO at Oracle Corp.; Whitfield Diffie, security specialist and former CSO at Sun Microsystems Inc.; Steve Katz, former CISO at Citigroup Inc.; Rhonda MacLean, director of corporate information security at Bank of America Corp.; and Will Pelgrin, director of the New York state Office of Cyber Security & Critical Infrastructure Coordination.