Entrepreneur chosen to head new DHS cybersecurity initiative

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A Silicon Valley entrepreneur and author has been selected to run a new government organization whose mission is to protect the computer networks of federal agencies from attack, his former company announced on Thursday.

Rod Beckstrom – who founded Twiki.net, provider of collaboration software for businesses – will take over as the first director of the newly created National Cyber Security Center, part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, according to a statement by his company.

Beckstrom has limited cybersecurity experience, but experts believe his belief in a decentralized approach to business success could work well in the government IT setting. He authored the best-selling book The Starfish and the Spider, which examines the power of decentralized organizations.

The National Cyber Security Center will be responsible for coordinating information-sharing around cyberattacks that target government agencies, according to a report in the Washington Post.

Hacker attempts at infiltrating government networks have gained widespread notoriety in recent months.

Johannes Ullrich, chief research officer of the SANS Internet Storm Center, applauded the appointment as a step in the right direction.

“There has to be more coordination and policy governing these government networks,” he told SCMagazineUS.com on Thursday. “They're huge and pretty diverse. They're just so complex and grew without much oversight.”

Beckstrom's role will differ from that of Greg Garcia, who was appointed in September 2006 to fill the vacant position of assistant secretary for cybersecurity and telecommunications, also under the DHS.

Ullrich said he thinks Beckstrom's background may benefit him in the new position.

“To some extent, at this level, it's less about the technical aspect as much as it is about the administrative and political aspect of the job,” he said.
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