DHS Cybersecurity Chief Philip Reitinger Resigns

Thursday, May 19, 2011

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Department of Homeland Security Deputy Undersecretary Philip Reitinger has announced he will be leaving the Obama administration effective June 3, 2011.

Reitinger had previously served as the executive director of the Department of Defense's Cybercrime Center and at the Department of Justice as the deputy chief of the Computer Crime and Intellectual Property division. 

Undersecretary Reitinger had also previously advised FEMA on cybersecurity emergency management as a member of the Federal Emergency Management Agency National Advisory Council while employed as a strategist for Microsoft.

Reitinger's resignation comes one week after the Obama administration delivered a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy to Congress.

The proposal was the culmination of over two years of effort by the White House to finish laying the groundwork for the protection of critical infrastructure in the face of increased threats posed by attacks on both public and private sector network systems.

"With significant progress having been made in activities across NPPD, with growing recognition of DHS's roles and authorities, and the cybersecurity legislative proposal now delivered to the Hill, it's a logical point for me to leave the Department of Homeland Security and allow the team that we have developed together to carry our initiatives forward," Reitinger wrote in a resignation announcement to DHS staff.

Reitinger cites the desire to spend more time with family as the impetus for his departure, but indicated he wishes to remain active in the cybersecurity field.

"I have young children and I have spent less time with them over the past few years than I would like. I intend to spend a lot of time with my family over the summer, and in the course of that decide how I can best play a role in advancing infrastructure protection and cybersecurity," Reitinger said.

Reitinger has been instrumental in the development of national policy regarding the security of the critical information technology infrastructure, government networks and private sector systems.

"His leadership, intellectual rigor, enthusiasm and commitment to the mission and the people of NPPD have been a central feature in making our organization better," DHS Undersecretary Rand Beers said.

During the tenure of the Obama administration, DHS has assumed the lead role in developing and implementing nation cybersecurity initiatives, and will continue to be central to coordination of interdepartmental leadership on issues related to national cybersecurity.

"The department has made tremendous strides in its cyber capabilities over the past few years, and Phil's energy and expertise will be missed," said Senator Joseph Lieberman, ID-Conn, Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

Reitinger believes that we have only begun to experience the brunt of cyber-based threats, and that there is a tremendous need for a unified front to counter vulnerabilities in both the public and private sectors.

"Unless people really start to really pay attention to the threat and how we need to drive fundamental change, we're in a world that is going get worse from day to day and month to month and year to year. And, we're going to be in a place eventually where your television is going to complain that it's being attacked by your refrigerator and isn't able to operate anymore. None of us wants to live that world," Reitinger stated in a prior interview with GovInfoSecurity.

Reitinger's departure also follows closely on the heels of a newly released Obama administration report titled the International Strategy for Cyberspace, which details the U.S. strategy to foster international cybersecurity cooperation.

The report hints that cyber aggression against the networks of one NATO nation could trigger a unified response from other member nations similar to that of a military threat response.

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