But after what appeared as a step forward, Chertoff and his department went quiet and that long silent period seemed to get on a lot of IT security pros' nerves.
Some would say rightly so, since it was in 2004 that Amit Yoran, then the director of DHS's National Cyber Security Division, quit. Unsurprisingly, Chertoff's reorganization effort was lauded by members of the IT security market because of the renewed focus a government secretary would bring to cybersecurity problems. However, the time it took to finally appoint the secretary was, to some industry practitioners, unexpected and certainly problematic in re-energizing the public/private bonds that Yoran had formed. Such partnerships were chased in hopes of getting government officials and private IT security specialists to share data, knowledge and other information in order to continually strengthen the country's critical infrastructure.
With the recent appointment of Greg Garcia as assistant secretary for cybersecurity and telecommunications, various goings-on among government and private officials yet may be reignited. One of the first that Paul Kurtz, executive director of the Cyber Security Industry Alliance (CSIA), would like to move on is setting priorities and programs that would aid the national infrastructure in withstanding a massive disruption.
Industry players, like Kurtz, are already applauding the appointment, noting Garcia's experience and well-established roots in the private sector. He sounds like a guy who should be ready for the challenges of the post. He's no stranger to information technology and its foibles. Among other of his IT-related dealings, he 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. And, before this, as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science, he helped to write and enact the Cyber Security Research and Development Act of 2002.
His pedigree, like others who have stepped into the government's IT security-focused post, is right. Only time will tell if his moves, as well as those of his bosses, will be, too.
Illena Armstrong is SC's U.S. editor-in-chief.