The government poached a renowned Googler to launch a first-of-its-kind security program

It looks like the US government may finally be taking a proactive step with cybersecurity.

The White House has poached Google employee Peiter Zatko, who just announced that he is moving from Google to a nebulous new post with the federal government.

He announced the new job with this tweet:

What’s of note is the “#CyberUL” admission. UL, explains Re/code, stands for Underwriters Laboratories, an old company that’s existed for more than 100 years that performs safety tests for products. It seems Zatko will be creating a program for the federal government that does safety checks but for cyber products.

Re/code writes:

The concept of establishing a UL-like agency that would evaluate software and hardware products for their security capabilities has been discussed in computer security circles for years. It was first proposed in 1999 by L0pht Heavy Industries, a hacker think tank based in Cambridge, Mass., of which Zatko was a member. 

So, if Zatko’s new position is being interpreted correctly, the federal government is now trying to be proactive about the security safeguards of the digital infrastructure it onboards.

This couldn’t come at a more critical time. Week after week new revelations surface about probable federal data breaches. While the government claims it is trying to fix any security gaps it has, the problem likely rests in its reactive nature of security vulnerabilities.

A CyberUT would hopefully create a culture that actively pre-checked for security vulnerabilities. 

Zatko has a long history of internet security. He worked at the Department of Defence’s research arm DARPA. He was also part of a slew of organisations that tried to bring digital security issues to the forefront as early the the ’90s.

If things are as they appear, he’s getting a real chance to change the cybersecurity culture at a federal level. 

We tried to reach out to Zatko to learn more about the new project. We’ll update if we hear more.

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