The head of the U.S. cybersecurity center has resigned because the National Security Agency (NSA) reportedly has too large an influence on how the department handles threats to the country's vast computer networks.
Rod Beckstrom, a former Silicon Valley entrepreneur and writer, led the U.S. National Cybersecurity Center, a new government department created in March 2008. Although there was a certain level of optimism for the position, he apparently was doomed from the beginning.
Beckstrom reportedly "received only five weeks of funding" because of "roadblocks engineered within the department" and White House.
In a letter Beckstrom wrote to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, he said the following: "While acknowledging the critical importance of NSA to our intelligence efforts, I believe this is a bad strategy on multiple grounds."
"The Department of Homeland Security has a strong relationship with the NSA, and continues to work in close collaboration with all of our federal partners on protecting federal civilian networks," a DHS statement e-mailed to AFP said. "We thank Rod for his service, and regret his departure."
As part of his role after being selected in March 2008, he reported to DHS secretary Napolitano and Michael Chertoff. It should be interesting to see who the NCSC selects to replace Beckstrom, and what policy changes, if any, will be made in the future.
"The threats to our democratic processes are significant if all top level government network security and monitoring are handled by any one organization (either directly or indirectly)," Beckstrom noted in his resignation letter. Although some privacy advocates agreed, several Homeland Security officials told the Wall Street Journal that Beckstrom may have just had personality issues with some officials.
The Obama administration has a number of major issues to deal with, but cybersecurity against foreign governments and terrorists is one of its main priorities. Obama recently launched an ambitious 60-day review of the nation's cybersecurity and how it can be improved -- recommendations and feedback from the review will be released next month.
Beckstrom's resignation will go into effect on March 13.