Update: U.S. cybersecurity chief resigns

Amit Yoran, said to be frustrated with progress, gives one-day notice

WASHINGTON - The head of cybersecurity efforts at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has resigned this week, leaving his job after reportedly giving a one-day notice.

Amit Yoran, director of the DHS National Cyber Security Division since September 2003, gave notice Wednesday that he would leave the job Thursday, according to an Associated Press news report. Yoran, former vice president of worldwide managed security services at Symantec Corp., resigned because of a lack of priority for cybersecurity within DHS, according to the AP.

A DHS spokeswoman on Friday confirmed Yoran's resignation. The agency viewed Yoran's service as a "valuable contribution" to cybersecurity, said Katy Mynster, a DHS spokeswoman.

Asked to comment on reports that Yoran resigned over a lack of priority for cybersecurity, Mynster said she believed he quit for other professional reasons. "Cybersecurity has been and will remain a priority for DHS," she said. Yoran used to be the former vice president of worldwide managed security services at Symantec Corp.

Yoran is the second U.S. cybersecurity czar to resign in less than two years. In January 2003, White House cybersecurity czar Richard Clarke resigned, citing frustration with the Bush administration's lack of progress in cybersecurity.

As recently as Thursday, Yoran appeared at a National Cyber Security Alliance press conference to promote October as National Cyber Security Awareness Month. Because of collaboration between private business and the government, "cyberspace is becoming a safer place," Yoran said at the Washington, D.C., press conference.

Software executives said they are disappointed that Yoran felt he had to resign. Yoran's resignation could be a setback in DHS efforts to improve cybersecurity, said Douglas Goodall, president and chief executive officer of RedSiren Inc., an IT security vendor. Yoran's job -- dealing with the "politics and competing priorities" in DHS -- was a tough one, Goodall said.

The White House released a National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace in February 2003, and without a strong leader at DHS, that report could gather dust, Goodall said.

"Our fear, our concern, is in fact this could create a delay in turning a strategy into action," he added. "It's very important to put a strong leader in quickly who can carry this forward."

Robert Holleyman, president and chief executive officer of the Business Software Alliance, called Yoran a strong leader in his time at DHS.

"It is even clearer today that cybersecurity must be properly elevated within the DHS in order to provide the necessary resources and the ability to implement policy that will better protect our information infrastructure," Holleyman said in a written statement.

The Information Technology Association of America issued a statement saying Yoran's resignation was a "disappointing setback." The group called for the cybersecurity chief position to be elevated in the agency's hierarchy.

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