WASHINGTON President Barack Obama will soon receive the results of a 60-day review of cybersecurity that should weigh in on whether he should name a cybersecurity czar, the White House said on Friday.
The review could also make recommendations on how much should be budgeted to prevent potential hacker attacks on critical infrastructure and fight widespread Internet fraud.
"Today, the interagency group undertaking the review concluded its work and is now in the process of submitting its findings and recommendations for the President's review," White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said in a statement.
"After the President has had an opportunity to carefully review the group's report, we will begin discussing the results," he added.
Companies in the cybersecurity market range from security-software makers Symantec Corp and McAfee Inc, to traditional defense contractors such as Northrop Grumman Corp and Lockheed Martin Corp, to information technology companies such as CACI International.
The review, led by Melissa Hathaway, a top adviser to the former director of national intelligence, was ordered by the White House in early February. Its importance was driven home earlier this month when the Wall Street Journal reported that cyber-spies had penetrated the U.S. electrical grid and left behind software programs that could be used to disrupt the system.
The United States for several years has accused the Chinese and Russians, among others, of using cyber-attacks to try to steal American trade and military secrets.
Obama was in Trinidad and Tobago on Friday for a summit with Latin American and Caribbean leaders.
Obama's proposed fiscal 2010 budget, announced in late February, included $355 million for the Department of Homeland Security to make private- and public-sector cyber infrastructure more resilient and secure. The administration also said it would put "substantial" funding for cybersecurity efforts into the national intelligence program, but gave no details since that funding is kept secret.
Some of those funds will go to the National Security Agency, which is responsible for breaking codes and electronic spying.
The White House said previously that it would initiate a drive to develop next-generation secure computers and networking for national security applications; establish tough new standards for cyber security and physical resilience; battle corporate cyber espionage and target criminal activity on the Internet.
Industry executives and analysts say the cybersecurity market will be a fast-growing area in coming years and could generate more than $10 billion in contracts by 2013.
(Reporting by Diane Bartz; Editing by Peter Cooney)