Strategic CIO // Executive Insights & Innovation
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3/10/2009
10:39 AM
Bob Evans
Bob Evans
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Politics, Not Hackers, Take Down Fed IT Security Chief

So after one year on the job, the leader of the team that protects this country's national information infrastructure has resigned over turf battles with the NSA and insufficient funding, my colleague Tom Claburn reports. Talk about screwed-up priorities: We spend $71,000,000,000 on federal IT but can't pay to protect our economic and national-defense interests?

So after one year on the job, the leader of the team that protects this country's national information infrastructure has resigned over turf battles with the NSA and insufficient funding, my colleague Tom Claburn reports. Talk about screwed-up priorities: We spend $71,000,000,000 on federal IT but can't pay to protect our economic and national-defense interests?Think about it: for federal IT, each month this country spends about $6 billion. Yet in spite of that almost-incomprehensible volume of spending, Rod Beckstrom stated he could only get funding for five weeks, Claburn reports. So it would appear that if newly named federal CIO Vivek Kundra is looking for a valuable battle to pick, this is it.

In resigning last week as director of the National Cybersecurity Center within the Department of Homeland Security, Beckstrom left with some harsh words for the National Security Agency and its unwillingness to find ways to cooperate with other government entities in seeking comprehensive cybersecurity strategies.

But two industry executives familiar with the workings of the federal cybersecurity operations said the problem is likely much more complex than Beckstrom indicated. Here's Howard Schmidt, president and CEO of R&H Security Consulting, from Claburn's piece:

Perhaps as a result of his experience in the Air Force and with various government security and law enforcement agencies, Schmidt suggested that Beckstrom's criticism of the NSA was excessive. "If I was back in the government and I was looking for an agency as an organization to help protect my systems, I would be looking to the NSA," he said.

And an article in TechNewsWorld yesterday offered this explanation for the interagency squabbling from Gary Moore, chief architect at Entrust:

"They [the NSA] are a great bunch of guys, very intelligent, and they know what they need to do to make sure the intelligence community is protected, but that doesn't always apply when you bring it down to an agency like Treasury, which is trying to work with consumers. Until they get more cooperative arrangements, they'll keep seeing this."

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