DHS picks cybersecurity czar

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) finally named a leader for its cybersecurity efforts on Monday, fulfilling a promise made last July by an agency that has drawn poor marks for digital security.

Gregory Garcia has been named Assistant Secretary for Cyber Security and Telecommunications, according to a statement released late Monday from Michael Chertoff, secretary of homeland security.

Chertoff announced plans to create the position in July 2005 but it had remained empty despite pressure from the IT industry to fill it.

Some observers have slammed the DHS for a lack of readiness to deal with threats against the country’s IT infrastructure. The DHS was created in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Garcia comes to the DHS from the Information Technology Association of America, where he was vice president for information security policy and programs. He has also been secretary for the IT Sector Coordinating Council, a group involved in collaboration between industry and the DHS.

“He brings both industry and government experience to bear,” said Shannon Kellogg, director of government and industry affairs with EMC Corp.’s RSA division. “He has a lot of IT experience, but he also has telecom experience, and he’s worked on the Hill.”

Garcia’s appointment is a “very positive sign” that DHS is going to finally give cybersecurity the attention it deserves, Kellogg added.

Earlier, Garcia worked on the staff of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science for the majority Republican party and helped to draft and enact the Cyber Security Research and Development Act of 2002.

Garcia has also worked with the Americans for Computer Privacy and the American Electronics Association. He has a bachelor of science degree from San Jose State University in California.

(Robert McMillan of the IDG News Service contributed to this story.)

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