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[ISN] U.S. cybersecurity chief abruptly resigns, cites frustration



http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/news/archive/2004/10/01/national1052EDT0544.DTL

TED BRIDIS
AP Technology Writer
10-01-2004

The government's cybersecurity chief has abruptly resigned after one
year with the Department of Homeland Security, confiding to industry
colleagues his frustration over what he considers a lack of attention
paid to computer security issues within the agency.

Amit Yoran, a former software executive from Symantec Corp., informed
the White House about his plans to quit as director of the National
Cyber Security Division and made his resignation effective at the end
of Thursday, effectively giving a single's day notice of his
intentions to leave.

Yoran said Friday he "felt the timing was right to pursue other
opportunities." It was unclear immediately who might succeed him even
temporarily. Yoran's deputy is Donald "Andy" Purdy, a former senior
adviser to the White House on cybersecurity issues.

Yoran has privately described frustrations in recent months to
colleagues in the technology industry, according to lobbyists who
recounted these conversations on condition they not be identified
because the talks were personal.

As cybersecurity chief, Yoran and his division -- with an $80 million
budget and 60 employees -- were responsible for carrying out dozens of
recommendations in the Bush administration's "National Strategy to
Secure Cyberspace," a set of proposals to better protect computer
networks.

Yoran's position as a director -- at least three steps beneath
Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge -- has irritated the technology
industry and even some lawmakers. They have pressed unsuccessfully in
recent months to elevate Yoran's role to that of an assistant
secretary, which could mean broader authority and more money for
cybersecurity issues.

"Amit's decision to step down is unfortunate and certainly will set
back efforts until more leadership is demonstrated by the Department
of Homeland Security to solve this problem," said Paul Kurtz, a former
cybersecurity official on the White House National Security Council
and now head of the Washington-based Cyber Security Industry Alliance,
a trade group.

Under Yoran, Homeland Security established an ambitious new cyber
alert system, which sends urgent e-mails to subscribers about major
virus outbreaks and other Internet attacks as they occur, along with
detailed instructions to help computer users protect themselves.

It also mapped the government's universe of connected electronic
devices, the first step toward scanning them systematically for
weaknesses that could be exploited by hackers or foreign governments.  
And it began routinely identifying U.S. computers and networks that
were victims of break-ins.

Yoran effectively replaced a position once held by Richard Clarke, a
special adviser to President Bush, and Howard Schmidt, who succeeded
Clarke but left government during the formation of the Department of
Homeland Security to work as chief security officer at eBay Inc.

Yoran cofounded Riptech Inc. of Alexandria, Va., in March 1998, which
monitored government and corporate computers around the world with an
elaborate sensor network to protect against attacks. He sold the firm
in July 2002 to Symantec for $145 million and stayed on as vice
president for managed security services.



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