The Luddite atop U.S. cybersecurity
September 28th, 2012
01:12 PM ET

The Luddite atop U.S. cybersecurity

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano acknowledged Friday her Luddite-like ways, despite the fact her position puts her in a critical leadership role when it comes to defending the nation's infrastructure from cyberattacks.

Napolitano said she does not use email "at all."

"For a whole host of reasons. So, I don't have any of my own accounts and that, you know, I'm very secure," Napolitano noted at a Washington conference about cyber security.

"Some would call me a Luddite but you know. But that's my own personal choice and I'm very unique in that regard I suspect," Napolitano added.

The Obama administration has been pushing Congress to revisit legislation that would have given DHS authority to enforce security standards. Legislation faltered earlier this year over concerns that it was too intrusive in requiring business to share data about intrusions, rather than it being voluntary.

In the meantime, an executive order is being drafted by the Obama administration that would help clarify security standards, Napolitano said. She said President Barack Obama has not reviewed it yet.

Napolitano said legislation would not dictate to companies how to run their security but rather would be a public-private partnerships to defend critical infrastructure.

Filed under: Cybersecurity • Homeland Security • Napolitano
soundoff (64 Responses)
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  3. jeffandkerryyachts

    She hasn't said anything about not continuing her duties, but just in case Napolitano decides to retire/move on, here's a list of potential people that could take over. Let me know which one you most strongly agree with please.

    November 7, 2012 at 8:54 am | Reply
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    October 16, 2012 at 11:17 pm | Reply
  5. smith

    She should have been gone a looooong time ago.

    October 5, 2012 at 1:44 am | Reply
  6. Bob Newhart

    Her eyes make her look like a tard.

    October 1, 2012 at 12:42 am | Reply
    • Booboo

      But she looks just like YOU!

      October 5, 2012 at 9:22 pm | Reply
  7. Jason

    Ha! So, would you hire a football coach who never played football? Seriously. At least we know that she can't respond to these comments.

    September 30, 2012 at 9:00 pm | Reply
    • Flargleugbrafkb

      She didn't say she didn't know anything about it.
      She said she doesn't use it.
      Anyone who knows about it and wants to maintain their privacy shouldn't use it.

      October 5, 2012 at 9:24 pm | Reply
      • Developer

        Tell me how many things you know proficiently that you don't use.

        October 9, 2012 at 11:39 pm |
      • scorpioman

        Right. The head of DHS cannot communicate real time with security personnel in the field
        because she does not/cannot use E-mail.

        How does she communicate? Uses smoke signals? : )

        Encrypted of course!

        October 10, 2012 at 1:23 am |
  8. jcamachott

    So she does not use email. Not even encrypted email! What about her assistants? I wonder what the information flow is like for sensitive data – she receives it in a phone call? Or someone has to type it and print it? Encrypted email is no less secure than those methods, no?

    September 30, 2012 at 3:06 pm | Reply
    • Zounds!

      Oh yeah. Right.

      October 5, 2012 at 9:25 pm | Reply
  9. Majav

    I love it! Good for her! Many people, including my mother, do not use the computer or even want to. I think this is incredibly healthy. I think all the government secrets should be produced in triplicate (carbon copies) and then mimeographed ten fold.

    FInd some lovely cavernous Federal building and hole everything down in the basement. Near the Mississippi would be good. Then a historic flood could wipe away all of our secrets once and for all. Bring back the rotary phone and party lines.

    It was a quieter time and just as much productivity, if not more. Technology works against efficiency. It is the biggest hoax since aliens purportedly showed up in Roswell. I should know, I was one of them.

    As far as Luddites go, the name is a bit of a misnomer. They weren't anti technology as much as they were pro living wage. Not much has changed despite what your smart phone says.

    September 29, 2012 at 9:31 am | Reply
    • Jack

      Huh. Look at the growth in GDP for the last 30 years? People are more productive now, more than ever before.

      September 30, 2012 at 7:27 pm | Reply
    • Jarrod

      Wow... Really? Look at all of the learning opportunities the web has afforded the third world. Look at the GDP over the 1970 – 2010 range.

      Not much has changed?

      Huh... Transmitting medical data and imagery in seconds rather than weeks, shared research between universities leading to more inventions and technological breakthroughs...

      Oh and how about helping people get projects funded.

      And wait, a life was saved:

      and more than once. – read the whole article.

      Now, how about the Arab spring?

      A revolution was started, supported and is still happening via Facebook and Twitter, you know that little thing that happened in Tunisia, Egypt, Syria, Yemen... uh seriously, technology hasn't changed anything?

      You are way off base, like, galaxies away from reality.

      Do you think that stem cell discoveries would have happened without super computers? Do you think that advancements in mapping the human genome and the large advancements in protein folding research would have happened without advancement in computer processor speed?

      Your statement is the most incorrect statement I have ever read.

      October 1, 2012 at 2:02 am | Reply
      • Venn

        You hear that? That's the sound of the combined NATO airfleet doing a low pass over your head.

        October 1, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
    • Got it

      Sarcasm is hilarious.

      October 9, 2012 at 11:40 pm | Reply
  10. Conrad

    I work for FEMA. We are getting rid of our own infrastructure computer server environment in favor of using "the cloud". This infuriates me since we are about to place all our sensitive data in the hads of unknowns in the interest of saving money. How can we do this after all the protection measures that we supposedly had to take by federal orders. CRAZY !!!!!!

    September 29, 2012 at 8:25 am | Reply
    • Jack

      Relax, Amazon a d Google are on it. More fleabane than Northrupt Grummand and Lockheed Mrtin at running data centers.

      September 30, 2012 at 7:28 pm | Reply
    • Blunderbuss

      The trouble with clouds is they aren't solid. They rain, sleet, snow, generate lightning and thunder, and spread all their little cloud parts all over creation. Think of your data as raindrops...that's just how safe and secure it's going to be.

      October 5, 2012 at 9:28 pm | Reply
  11. mike

    The real reason she and some others in government service prefer not to use email is always "no electronic records" which are public record which can be requested by anyone including the metadata that goes with it. More public officials don't use email or text messages for that very reason.

    September 29, 2012 at 12:33 am | Reply
  12. Lewy

    Too dumb?

    September 29, 2012 at 12:28 am | Reply
  13. Levas

    Remember this same person's incompetent response to the underwear bomber on the flight to Detroit? And she is still there collecting a paycheck to be responsible for the security of something that she feels is so insecure that she does not use it. So, that is how she solves the nation's cybersecurity problems by making herself secure by not using what she is supposed to be making secure. Is this a Woody Allen movie; the Men in Black?, Ghostbusters running Homeland Security. The hacking by News Corp which invaded people's privacy pales in comparison to the amount of personal data Homeland Security has allowed to leak out through cyberhacking. Shame, Shame, Shame.

    September 29, 2012 at 12:13 am | Reply
  14. DK

    Honestly I find this ridiculous.. The problem with too many boomers is that they are afraid of technology but (as this example shows) hold positions of power and excessive pay directionally related to the same technology. Time to retire and let someone useful do the job.

    September 29, 2012 at 12:09 am | Reply
    • Boomer

      You're talking out of your exhaust port. Boomer's aren't afraid of technology. We just know the hazards of using it and depending on it to solve all your ills. When the power goes out, it's the Boomers who'll be living while you Twittering Twinks starve or freeze your pointy little butts off.

      October 5, 2012 at 9:31 pm | Reply
  15. Peter Nunes

    "Very unique"? The word "unique" is absolute, and may not have qualifiers. Something is either unique, or not. National leaders should know this, as it is a 5th grade concept.

    September 28, 2012 at 11:47 pm | Reply
    • Doc

      Peter, is that all you got from the story? Good grief.

      September 29, 2012 at 12:34 am | Reply
    • Youneek!

      Peter, pull your head out of your porthole, dude. Unique to take a break from being such a pointy-eared waenker. And remember, Peter, ours is a strange and unique relationship. You're strange and I'm unique!

      October 5, 2012 at 9:35 pm | Reply
  16. Concerned Citizen

    This makes me feel very secure...NOT!!! How can someone be in a leadership role for our nation's infrastructures security and be an opponent of technological changes. Who is actually performing the duties of the office?

    September 28, 2012 at 11:35 pm | Reply
    • Ignorant Citizen

      If you were so concerned you would have re-read the article so you understood it. She's not an opponent of technology. She obviously understands it all too well, given her desire to not use email. Anyone who is truly concerned with their privacy wouldn't use it. Heck, do know that they can find out who you are from your post? This isn't anonymous in the least. Silly goose.

      October 5, 2012 at 9:43 pm | Reply
    • scorpioman

      Ref your last sentence.

      I believe this is currently being debated at all DHS field stations in the world. : )

      October 10, 2012 at 1:30 am | Reply
  17. shan

    I find that you really must be diligent about unsubscribing the minute you get a promotional email. I have to do it at least a couple of times a day. Imagine, if I didn't I would literally get a hundred unwanted emails every day. Now that you're even more connected with smart phones, these unwanted emails are even more intrusive. And some sites like Facebook will conveniently forget your preferences after a few months and you have to do it all over again.

    September 28, 2012 at 11:33 pm | Reply
    • SideWinder

      By clicking on the "Unsubscibe" links you are validating that the email address is a valid one and usually will lead to more spam/unwanted emails. Best thing to do is to just flag the offending emails as spam and not "unsubscribe."

      September 28, 2012 at 11:56 pm | Reply
  18. Puzzled in Peoria

    She is the one person on planet Earth who has never heard from that rich widow in Nigeria.

    September 28, 2012 at 11:21 pm | Reply
  19. OneTwo

    Isn't this similar to what Osama Bin Laden was doing?

    September 28, 2012 at 10:58 pm | Reply
    • dude

      that's the most idiotic post ever. congratulations on demonstrating just how low your IQ is.

      September 28, 2012 at 11:07 pm | Reply
  20. Portland tony

    All l can say is she must have a good staff. The term Luddite refers to someone who doesn't use any modern labor saving devices. Certainly hope she's got a secure cell phone just in case a war starts and she's in the loo!

    September 28, 2012 at 6:40 pm | Reply
    • Lucy Loo

      Tin Cans with strings. Totally secure. LOL!

      October 5, 2012 at 9:45 pm | Reply
  21. Tom

    Isn't that terribly inefficent?

    September 28, 2012 at 2:44 pm | Reply
    • MarkinFL

      You mean not having to sort through tons of spam and interoffice memos?

      September 28, 2012 at 11:03 pm | Reply

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