DHS fills National Cybersecurity Center post

Former Microsoft executive Philip Reitinger will lead the DHS' cybersecurity operations, filling a post vacated by Rod Beckstrom.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) appointed former Microsoft executive Philip Reitinger as director of the National Cybersecurity Center. 

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In an announcement earlier this week, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano filled three positions that support cybersecurity operations at DHS. Also appointed were Greg Schaffer as assistant secretary for cybersecurity and communications and Bruce McConnell as counselor to the National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD) Deputy Under Secretary.

Reitinger fills the NCSC post left vacant with the departure of Rod Beckstrom. Beckstrom resigned in March citing his frustration with cybersecurity planning between federal agencies and the lack of funding for cybersecurity issues. Reitinger will also continue to serve as Deputy Under Secretary for the NPPD, a post he was appointed to in March. 

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The DHS has seen a slew of cybersecurity leadership changes in the last several years. Beckstrom, an entrepreneur, was appointed last year. He had no security or government experience. Prior to Beckstrom, the leadership position was held by security experts Howard Schmidt and Amit Yoran, as well as Greg Garcia, who was the first cybersecurity czar appointed by the president. Garcia was a former lobbyist with the Information Technology Association of America.

Reitinger was a senior security strategist with Microsoft's Trustworthy Computing Security Team before taking the position at the NPPD in March. He helped lead the shift of the software giant's focus on product security. Prior to Microsoft, he served as executive director of the Department of Defense's (DoD) Cyber Crime Center in Linthicum, Maryland, where he headed the DoD's computer forensics investigations.

Napolitano said Reitinger's role will be to collect, analyze and share cybersecurity information between federal agencies. He will also coordinate situational awareness and reporting for federal cybersecurity organizations, she said.

As NCSC Director, Reitinger will be charged with helping secure federal networks and systems by collecting, analyzing, integrating and sharing information among interagency partners. Reitinger will coordinate situational awareness and reporting for federal cybersecurity organizations and personnel resources in order to gain a clear understanding of risks and threats.

"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," Napolitano said in a prepared statement. "Centralizing our cybersecurity efforts under Phil's leadership will help create a unified DHS as we continue to adapt to an ever-changing array of threats." 

McConnell will serve as senior advisor to Reitinger. McConnell headed his own technology consultancy, McConnell International and Government Futures, and served on the Obama-Biden Presidential Transition Team. He was Director of the International Y2K Cooperation Center from 1999-2000. Prior to that, he was chief of information policy and technology in the U.S. Office of Management and Budget from 1993-1999.

As assistant secretary for cybersecurity and communications, Schaffer will head the National Cyber Security Division, the Office of Emergency Communications, and the National Communications System. Schaffer was senior vice president and chief risk officer for Alltel Communications. Prior to Alltel, Schaffer was director of PricewaterhouseCoopers Cybercrime Prevention and Response Practice. His focus was on computer forensics investigations.

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