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6/2/2009
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Homeland Security Names New Cybersecurity Officials

Philip Reitinger, who worked in cybersecurity for Microsoft and fought cybercrime for the Department of Justice, will help to coordinate cybersecurity efforts across the government.

The Department of Homeland Security filled out its cybersecurity team Monday, two months after Rod Beckstrom resigned as director of the department's National Cybersecurity Center. He had clashed with the National Security Agency and complained about lack of funding.

Taking Beckstrom's place as director of the National Cybersecurity Center (NCSC) will be Philip Reitinger, who is currently Homeland Security deputy undersecretary for the National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD). Reitinger, who also worked in cybersecurity for Microsoft and fought cybercrime for the Department of Justice, will help to coordinate cybersecurity efforts across the government.

Reitinger will continue to hold his position at the NPPD, where he heads up Homeland Security-specific cybersecurity efforts. "Holding both positions simultaneously will allow Reitinger to provide broader strategic direction to the department's cybersecurity efforts while ensuring preparedness and response capabilities across all federal computer systems," the Department of Homeland Security said in a statement. It's unclear how his role would shift as the White House brings in its new cybersecurity czar.

Last week, President Obama announced that he would be appointing a cybersecurity coordinator who would be part of the national security staff and National Economic Council and have direct access to the president. The official will coordinate cybersecurity efforts across government and work to protect the critical digital infrastructure across the country with help from the private sector, echoing the current description of Reitinger's current role.

Indeed, one of the reasons Obama announced the new position was to clear up confusion, not to add to it. "No single official oversees cybersecurity policy across the federal government, and no single agency has the responsibility or authority to match the scope and scale of the challenge," Obama said in a press conference Friday. "When it comes to cybersecurity, federal agencies have overlapping missions and don't coordinate and communicate nearly as well as they should -- with each other or with the private sector. This status quo is no longer acceptable -- not when there's so much at stake."

In addition to Reitinger, the Homeland Security named two of his deputies. Technology consultant Bruce McConnell will become counselor to the deputy undersecretary for NPPD and will advise Reitinger on policy and strategy.

Greg Schaffer, former senior VP and chief risk officer for Alltel, will become assistant secretary for Cybersecurity and Communications and will lead the National Cyber Security Division, the Office of Emergency Communications, and the National Communications System, in part heading up disaster-recovery efforts in the event of a catastrophe.

Mary Ellen Seale, whom Beckstrom had recommended as acting director of the NCSC, will stay on as deputy director under Reitinger.


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