Currently, cyber security is coordinated at DHS by the director of the National Cyber Security Division, which resides in the department's Infrastructure Protection Directorate. The technology industry has long complained cyber security deserves equal billing with physical security.
Under Chertoff's plan, a new Assistant Secretary for Cyber security and Telecommunications will be responsible for identifying and assessing the vulnerability of critical telecommunications infrastructure and assets.
In addition, the new office will be charged with providing ''timely, actionable and valuable'' threat information and leading the national response to cyber and telecommunications attacks.
''The ability to share information with our state and local partners, the private sector, law enforcement and first responders is absolutely critical to our success,'' Chertoff said. ''Otherwise, we are effectively tying the hands of those who are on the ground and charged with the responsibility of protecting their community, their neighbors and their families.''
Chertoff promised to invite ''every state homeland security advisor and every state emergency management coordinator'' to Washington for working sessions to discuss information exchange protocols and other topics of mutual concern.
''We recognize the need for better and more inclusive information sharing. Information sharing is a two-way street,'' he added.
But it was Chertoff's call for greater cyber security awareness at the DHS that drew floods of praise and statements from the technology industry.
Robert Holleyman of the Business Software Alliance called Chertoff's plan ''much needed'' and ''innovative''.