Garcia looks to raise cybersecurity's profile

Greg Garcia, the Homeland Security Department's new assistant secretary for cybersecurity and telecommunications, faces a big task: raising awareness of IT security's importance from a post that had essentially been left vacant for two years.

Garcia, vice president for information security programs at the Information Technology Association of America trade group in Arlington, Va., was appointed by DHS secretary Michael Chertoff to the new job last week and will be the first cybersecurity chief to serve at the assistant secretary level.

Amit Yoran was appointed director of the DHS National Cyber Security Division'much lower in the giant department's organization'in September 2003 after months of complaints from security professionals that the administration was not giving enough attention to cybersecurity. The presidential adviser's position had been eliminated in the White House, and DHS had no one who was focused on the job of securing information systems. Yoran left the job a year later.

Yoran and other appointees'including Howard Schmidt and Richard Clarke, who had served as White House advisers before the job was moved to DHS'had lamented the lack of visibility on cybersecurity. Industry groups have lobbied since the formation of DHS in early 2003 for the role to exist at the assistant secretary level.

'I think they picked the right guy ...' said Joe Tasker, senior vice president of government affairs at ITAA. 'This is his forte, translating real, hard-core technology into policy.'

IT industry representatives appear to be satisfied with Garcia's selection as well.

'Greg is a solid pick for the position. He knows information security issues and has good connections in the private sector. He is also earnest and focused,' said Paul Kurtz, executive director of the Cyber Security Industry Alliance. 'This combination, with consistent senior support within DHS, will enable DHS to move forward on critical information security issues.'

Robert Holleyman, president and chief executive officer of the Business Software Alliance, another industry trade group, agreed.

'Greg brings a wealth of knowledge to the government's cybersecurity program ... and the know-how to get things accomplished in Washington,' Holleyman said.

Garcia has been with ITAA since 2003. Before that, he served on the majority staff of the House Science Committee, where he was the panel's liaison to the private sector.

Garcia played an active role under the leadership of committee chairman Rep. Sherwood Boehlert (R-N.Y.) in drafting and shepherding to passage the Cyber Security R&D Act of 2002.

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