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White House creates cyberspace security post

The White House has appointed a top official from the US National Security Council to serve as presidential adviser for cyberspace security.

The announcement follows the White House's unveiling of plans to establish a new Office of Homeland Security, headed by the former governor of Pennsylvania, Tom Ridge, who was sworn in on 8 October.

The president's special adviser for cyberspace security, Richard Clarke, will help mesh ongoing critical infrastructure protection efforts in various government agencies and the private sector.

Currently, there are a number of entities in place to swap information on perceived or potential cyberattacks on the nation's most sensitive infrastructures, including IT, telecom, finance and transport.

Ken Watson, president of the industry-led Partnership for Critical Infrastructure Security, recently said before a Senate committee: "The current mix of lead agencies, sector liaisons and uncoordinated budgets makes synchronised action difficult."

Watson said that he believed there were about 13 different efforts to safeguard critical infrastructures.

Clarke is charged with coordinating these groups. In the case of disruption, he will orchestrate efforts to restore systems.

Industry groups such as the Information Technology Association of America (ITAA) hailed Clarke's appointment.

ITAA president Harris Miller characterised Clarke's appointment as installing the equivalent of a cybersecurity czar, a post ITAA has repeatedly urged the White House to create.

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