[ISN] Yet another cybersecurity chief steps down

InfoSec News isn at c4i.org
Thu Jan 13 11:17:19 EST 2005


By Robert Lemos 
Staff Writer, CNET News.com
January 12, 2005

The Department of Homeland Security's top bureaucrat in charge of 
cybersecurity and physical-infrastructure protection resigned on 
Tuesday, as the Bush administration nominated a federal judge and 
prosecutor to head the agency. 

The resignation of Robert Liscouski, director of the National Cyber 
Security Division, is the latest blow to the Department of Homeland 
Security's cybersecurity initiatives, which many industry experts have 
criticized as lacking leadership. In October, the agency's top 
cybersecurity official, Amit Yoran, resigned from the DHS amid 
industry calls to give the post more power. 

"There has been a revolving door on cybersecurity at the DHS," said 
Dan Burton, vice president of governmental affairs at security firm 
Entrust. "They have had three different heads of that division in the 
past 18 months, which has made it a challenge to have continuity and 

While the industry has largely praised the Bush administration's 
position on cybersecurity, as spelled out in the National Strategy to 
Secure Cyberspace, security experts believe the information frontier 
has not been effectively patrolled. 

"The problems of the past have been largely because of the fallout of 
9/11 and the focus of the federal government on physical security," 
said Paul Kurtz, executive director of the Cyber Security Industry 
Alliance. "Cybersecurity has been put in the backseat."

News of the resignation came as the Bush administration announced its 
second nomination for the post of secretary of the Department of 
Homeland Security. The nominee, Michael Chertoff, has been a U.S. 
Court of Appeals judge, a U.S. attorney for New Jersey and an 
assistant U.S. attorney general. The administration's first pick, 
Bernard Kerik, bowed out of the nomination in early December after a 
variety of legal and ethical problems were publicized.

While President Bush praised Chertoff for being a "practical 
organizer, a skilled manager and a brilliant thinker," the nominee is 
also a safe bet. Chertoff has passed muster in the Senate three times 
already, successfully being confirmed for three other government 

 For cybersecurity, Chertoff's nomination could signal a change in 
policy at the Department of Homeland Security, Entrust's Burton 
posited. Three years ago, Burton met with the nominee while Chertoff 
was at the Department of Justice, handling criminal prosecutions, 
including cybercrime cases, he said.

"We will see how deeply he personally gets engaged in the focus on 
cybersecurity," Entrust's Burton said. "But clearly, at the top, we 
have someone that understands this issue." 

Sources knowledgeable about Chertoff's confirmation process believe 
Congress will quickly give the thumbs-up to the former judge and 
prosecutor. Liscouski will be leaving by February, a spokesperson for 
the Department of Homeland Security said.

Security experts hope the new guard will bring a new focus on Internet 
and information security. 

"Attacks are occurring everyday in cyberspace," CSIA's Kurtz said. 
"Are terrorists behind those attacks? No. But we have criminals in 
cyberspace, and that needs far more attention from the federal 

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