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[ISN] NIPC chief Ron Dick to retire
By DAN VERTON
DECEMBER 09, 2002
WASHINGTON -- Ron Dick, the director of the FBI's National
Infrastructure Protection Center (NIPC), the cyberthreat and warning
arm of the bureau, plans to retire this month, bringing to a close a
25-year career in law enforcement.
Dick, who took the helm of the NIPC in March 2001 during one of the
most tumultuous times in the agency's brief history, is credited with
helping the NIPC define its role and mission within a growing and
complicated federal cybsersecurity bureaucracy and amid incessant
assaults from an army of critics who often took aim at what they saw
as a lack of strategic analysis coming out of the agency.
Navy Rear Adm. James Plehal, the NIPC's deputy director, will take
over as acting director until March 1, 2003, when the agency is
expected to be absorbed into the Homeland Security Department.
"Ron gets an A on the enforcement side [for] finding and prosecuting
criminals all over the world, including the Leaves worm creator to the
Melissa virus creator to the 'I Love You' creator," said Alan Paller,
director of research at the Bethesda, Md.-based SANS Institute.
"Overall, I'd say he made a substantial difference in fighting
Harris Miller, president of the Arlington, Va.-based Information
Technology Association of America called Dick an "effective" leader.
"He has increased the coordination among the government organizations
involved and has been tireless in his efforts to reach out to the
private sector to increase information flow between the private and
public sector on cybersecurity risks and cyberterror threats," said
Dick is also credited with helping to increase and improve the NIPC's
analysis capabilities, bringing in the likes of Bob Gerber, a career
CIA officer, to serve as the NIPC's chief of analysis and warning;
Leslie Wiser, a new watch chief recently hired away from the NSA who
was also the FBI agent responsible for nabbing CIA spy Aldrich Ames;
and a Secret Service agent to serve as a liaison between the NIPC and
In one of his first steps toward demonstrating a coordinated federal
approach to cybersecurity, Dick publicly introduced the Cyber Incident
Coordination Group (CICG), which consists of select cyberintelligence
experts from the CIA, the National Security Council, the Critical
Infrastructure Assurance Office and the FBI. The CICG was formed late
last year and conducts virtual meetings to coordinate responses to
cyberincidents that may pose a risk to national security.
However, one of Dick's biggest challenges during his tenure came in
July 2001. That was when the Code Red worm began its rampage through
the Internet. Coming as it did on the heels of a series of critical
reports from the General Accounting Office on the NIPC's performance,
Code Red was in many ways an important test of Dick's leadership
"Everybody issued warnings, and yet we didn't reach a significant
number of people who utilize the software," he said in an interview in
his office at the height of the Code Red crisis.
"When I got here, we were basically a start-up," Dick said during that
2001 interview. "There wasn't a staff here, there weren't facilities
here and no dedicated source of funding. We basically had to build
those capabilities from the ground up. It takes time."
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