The security community is doubtful that the newly formed Global Council of CSOs will
actually aid, or even make much of a difference to, IT managers working night and day to
secure their own companies.
The council, which was formally announced at a San Francisco press conference Wednesday
afternoon, is made up of senior high-tech security executives from major corporations, like
eBay, Motorola, MCI, Microsoft, Citigroup, and Bank of America. The 10 members will form a
think tank focused on encouraging dialogue between the members, as well as between the
corporate sector and government agencies.
”We’re looking to enhance cyber security, technology, economic prosperity and national
security interests,” said Howard A. Schmidt, former White House cyber-security advisor and
a founding member of the council. ”This group represents a pretty comprehensive base of
depth of experience and depth of understanding of the issues we deal with… One of the best
things we can do is to continue the dialogue.”
But some security experts say dialogue among a few corporate executives isn’t what is
critically needed right now.
”I don’t know if this will really benefit anybody, to be honest with you,” says Keith
Peer, president and CEO of Central Command, an anti-virus company based in Medina, Ohio.
”These people are from very large companies. What concerns them is uniquely related to
major corporations. But large companies make up a very small percentage of the Internet
users in the world. They are dwarfed by the individual users, and the small- and
medium-sized enterprise users.
”I’d like to see a think tank that focuses on the majority of Internet users,” adds Peer.
What Dan Woolley, a vice president at Computer Associates International Inc., would like to
see is a council of people who have the skills, and the time, to make things happen in
”It’s the who’s who of security, but I’m wondering what this group is going to do,” says
Woolley. ”What we need is a strong lobbying group. I don’t see these guys going to
Washington and shaking up The Hill and that’s what we really need done. These are executives
at eBay and Microsoft and Bank of America. Are they going to have to do anything except get
together one a month and have dinner and talk shop?”
Woolley adds that simply getting some heavy hitters in the same room just isn’t what’s
needed in a time when viruses and spam are exploding, and patches for software bugs are
coming faster than IT managers could possibly handle.
”You have a bunch of really smart security guys sharing information among themselves.
That’s great, but how is that going to help everyone else?” asks Woolley. ”What are you
going to do, Guys? Are you building policies that are exportable? Are you crafting
technology? Talking is a lofty goal, but what is the real purpose? What are you going to
really do for everyone?”
Ken VanWyk, a principal at KRvW Assoc., LLC, a Virginia-based IT security consulting and
training company, says the council could be beneficial — to the members.
”There’s going to be passing of information at these meetings that wouldn’t be done over
email,” says VanWyk. ”A professional colleague might give you a heads up about legislation
coming down the pike or an incident that you might not be aware of. It’s informal,
high-level discussions. These are some pretty big companies that are going to be helping
VanWyk says it doesn’t expect the benefit to trickle down to companies outside of the
council, but he notes that the companies involved are large and affect millions of people.
”I have a tremendous amount of faith in Howard Schmidt’s ability to pull this off,” says
VanWyk. ”I would expect you won’t see a whole lot of press releases coming out of this. The
important things they accomplish will be quietly handled.”