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Yoran abruptly resigns as U.S. cybersecurity czar

The nation's top information security chief said to be frustrated by bureaucracy.

The nation's cybersecurity chief quit Friday, a week after House Republicans backed off from moving cybersecurity functions from the Department of Homeland Security to the White House budget office.

Amit Yoran resigned Thursday, giving one day's notice, according to the Associated Press. Yoran said Friday he left to pursue other opportunities. But, the AP reported, he'd confided to colleagues in the tech industry he was frustrated by the lack of attention the DHS had given cybersecurity issues.

The news hit some in the security industry hard. "I'm very surprised he stepped down. Not long term -- these types of jobs will burn you out or frustrate you out. But just that there was no advance notice or awareness or warning," said Doug Goodall, CEO of Pittsburgh-based RedSiren Inc. "He caught everybody off guard and I'm disappointed by that."

Yoran held the top national cybersecurity job for a year and previously served as a Symantec Corp. software executive after selling his company, Riptech, to Symantec for $145 million in July 2002.

Within the DHS, Yoran's division included 60 employees and an $80 million budget to carry out recommendations within the president's National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace. Lobbyists for the tech industry had tried unsuccessfully to elevate Yoran's position and standing within the DHS in the hopes of garnering more resources and visibility.

Both of Yoran's predecessors, Howard Schmidt, who is now CSO of eBay Inc., and Richard Clarke had direct lines to the White House, while Yoran had to work through layers of bureaucracy within the DHS, which is headed by Secretary Tom Ridge.

Goodall praised Yoran for his ability to push the national strategy off paper and into practice, such as launching the US-CERT program. "Him leaving this unexpectedly opens the door to it stalling out. Perhaps things he had in motion will slow down and stop or go backwards

"This position needs to be filled quickly," he added. "If not, clearly it opens up a vulnerability in our national critical infrastructure."

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