Garcia appointed new DHS cyberczar

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The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) late Monday announced the appointment of Gregory Garcia to fill the long-vacant role of cyberczar.

Garcia previously served as vice president for information security policy and programs at the Information Technology Association of America, an 11,000-member trade group representing the nation's IT industry.

Garcia, who helped draft the Cyber Security Research and Development Act of 2002 - a bill that created cybersecurity research centers and college grant programs, becomes DHS' first assistant secretary of cybersecurity and telecommunications - a position created by Congress more than a year ago.

The role replaces the position of director of the agency's National Cyber Security Division, which has been vacant since Amit Yoran resigned from the post in 2004.

Garcia's appointment appears to provide much-needed leadership, which Paul Kurtz, executive director of the Cyber Security Industry Alliance, has said is crucial for safeguarding the nation's critical infrastructure.

"He's a solid pick," Kurtz told SCMagazine.com today. "He's got experience in Washington on Capitol Hill. He's got a business-like attitude. He's earnest…(Now) you have a senior person who is focused on these issues 100 percent of the time."

Kurtz said the challenge now is getting Garcia the support he needs from leaders to ensure he "executes on the priorities and programs." Among them are increasing spending on research and development, activating an early warning system for cyberattacks and establishing command and control coordination procedures.

Other cybersecurity advocates praised the appointment.

"We applaud (DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff's) nomination of Greg, and welcome the opportunity to continue our work together," Business Software Alliance President and CEO Robert Holleyman said. "He understands that government has a critical role to play, and his experience in the private sector provides a unique perspective on industry's critical role in strengthening our collective approach to protecting the data security infrastructure."

Garcia also helped found the National Cyber Security Partnership, a public-private agreement established with the passage of the 2003 White House National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace, Chertoff said in a statement.

Click here to email reporter Dan Kaplan.

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