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Yoran's Replacement Hardly Newsworthy

The Washington Post has reported today:

[Amit] Yoran's deputy, Andy Purdy, will take over as acting director [of the DHS National Cyber Security Division], according to an e-mail memo written by Robert Liscouski, Homeland Security's assistant secretary for infrastructure protection and Yoran's former boss. Purdy previously served as a senior adviser for IT security and privacy to the President's Critical Infrastructure Protection Board. He also served as senior counsel to a special House committee that investigated the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

This is hardly a newsworthy development or significant in determining the future direction of the cybersecurity strategy for America. Some of you may recall that Purdy's name surfaced as a possible candidate for the lead role after Howard Schmidt left for eBay. Purdy was Schmidt's second in command at the time that DHS was being stood up and before the official creation of the National Cyber Security Division. While Andy Purdy certainly has as much history and continuity as anyone working these issues within the federal government today, it is clear that naming him as "acting director" was an expedient step to putting someone "in charge". Add to this announcement the additional context which explains while DHS will be in a "holding pattern" for some time:

  • The national election in just 4 weeks will determine which political party will be in control of DHS for the next four years and who will stay/who will go.
  • There are competing proposals in Congress to elevate cybersecurity to an assistant secretary position in DHS or move it back to the White House.

So, today's announcement answers the question of who will succeed Yoran in the short-term. But it fails to address the bigger challenges of how to make cybersecurity a greater national priority and how to attract qualified, competent leadership to a post that has such a gray cloud hanging over it.

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