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July 26, 2011

Cybersecurity Official Resigns From DHS

The Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) senior cyber security official abruptly resigned on Monday amid several high-profile attacks on government computer systems, reports Reuters.

Randy Vickers resigned as director of the US Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT), a part of DHS's National Cyber Security Division. DHS declined to comment on either the attacks or the resignation of its top official as of Monday.

Vickers' resignation was announced in an email to staff by Bobbie Stempfley, the DHS's acting assistant secretary for cyber security and communications.

Vickers also declined to provide an explanation for his sudden resignation, only saying that the department does not discuss personnel matters.

However, according to news source Information Week, which first reported Vickers' resignation, it followed a string of cyber attacks on US government networks.

Hacktivist group LulzSec has claimed responsibility for attacks on websites of the CIA, US Senate, Arizona Dept of Public Safety and others over the past few weeks.

US Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynn said earlier this month that a foreign intelligence service swiped 24,000 computer files from a US defense contractor in March in one of the largest ever cyber attacks on a Pentagon supplier.

And RSA Security, the firm that provides two-factor authentication services for many government agencies and their contractors has also had a data breach, causing concern that the networks used by many customers of RSA's SecurID are open to new threats.

The email by Stempfley, obtained by AFP, said Vickers would be replaced by US-CERT deputy director Lee Rock until a new director is named.

"Lee has been the deputy director for US-CERT for over a year and we are confident that our organization will continue its strong performance under his leadership," said Stempfley. "We wish Randy success in his future endeavors." 

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