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Why did the director of the American cybersecurity arm of the DHS abruptly resign?

Published: July 26, 2011
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By Madison Ruppert - BLN Contributing Writer

Why did the director of the agency tasked with protecting the American government from cybersecurity threats resign so abruptly at such a crucial time?

Is this related to the many attacks on federal networks and affiliates under the banner of the LulzSec-Anonymous Operation AntiSec?

Unfortunately, neither of these questions can be answered with any amount of certainty at this point.

What we do know is that Randy Vickers, former director of the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team, or US-CERT, has resigned as of Friday, effective immediately.

US-CERT controls and defends the federal governments networks while cooperating with state and local governments and the private sector in their efforts to suppress breaches of critical or confidential information in America.

InformationWeek obtained an e-mail that was sent to US-CERT personnel by acting assistant secretary for cybersecurity and communications, Bobbie Stempfley, revealing this resignation.

The veracity of the e-mail was confirmed by a spokesperson for the Department of Homeland Security.

However, the Department of Homeland Security failed to provide any explanations or reasons behind Vickers’ unexpected move.

The anonymous spokesperson for the DHS quoted by InformationWeek would not discuss the matter in any detail.

Until a successor for Vickers is appointed by the DHS, Deputy Director of US-CERT Lee Rock will hold the position. Stempfley related in the e-mail that they are “confident that [US-CERT] will continue its strong performance under his leadership.”

The timing of Vickers’ departure brings up a lot of questions. One of the most important, in my opinion, is if this is at all related to the relatively recent breach of Pentagon networks, supposedly by a foreign nation that resulted in 24,000 confidential documents being compromised.

It is equally likely that Vickers was just unhappy with his job and decided to leave, but the coincidental timing should raise a few questions among the public.

One other possibility is that Vickers resigned in protest of the lack of security or the decrepit systems used by the federal government.

This speculation has some basis in established fact, most prominent being that the United States Marine Corps General and vice chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff James Cartwright has openly criticized the Department of Defense’s IT systems.

Cartwright said, “Quite frankly, my feeling is – at least being a never satisfied person – the department is pretty much in the Stone Age as far as IT is concerned.”

Could Vickers’ resignation be an effort to protest these backwards systems? Or was he just sick of working for the DHS?

Until we know more, only speculation is possible. However, the timing is quite noteworthy. Stay tuned for more information in the coming days.

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