It's gotten to the point where the only consistent thing about the U.S. approach to cybersecurity issues, and leadership, is that whatever big name or industry leader is appointed, you can be sure he or she will resign before too long. CNET's Declan McCullagh reports that Rod Beckstrom quit last week as the director of the DHS's National Cyber Security Center with complaints about lack of resources and turf battles. Beckstrom joins a long list of former cybersecurity czars or advisors, among them Greg Garcia, Howard Schmidt, Richard Clark, Amit Yoran, who quit with similar frustrations. (And though Beckstrom was already a successful Silicon Valley entrepreneur, he can take heart in the fact that most of the former cyber czars rake in solid consulting and speaking fees on the topic once they quit.)
Gartner analyst John Pescatore says Beckstrom's bail-out is unsurprising. He's spot-on, given Beckstrom's lack of qualifications for the job and the often disjointed approach the government has taken toward harnessing the issue of cybersecurity over the past years. Nothing frustrates leaders like an inability to get things done.
But those who lose sleep worrying about national and corporate cybersecurity shouldn't give up hope just yet. Presient Obama requested $355 million for cybersecurity in his 2010 budget, and last month, directed Melissa Hathaway, who worked on cyber issues in the NSA during the Bush administration, to conduct a 60-day review of the situation.
What remains is the turf battle over who should control cybersecurity—DHS, NSA, or the White House directly. What hangs in the balance each time another cyber czar quits, or another strategy quietly fades to black, is the safety and security of key pieces of the nation's critical infrastructure--financial, intelligence, power and public Internet networks. Stay tuned.