DHS creates division for cybersecurity

The Homeland Security Department has formed a National Cyber Security Division in the department's Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection Directorate.

The NCSD has about 60 employees, Robert Liscouski, the assistant secretary of homeland security for infrastructure protection, said at a briefing today.

The workers are from the now-defunct Critical Infrastructure Assurance Office and National Infrastructure Protection Center, along with elements of the Federal Computer Incident Response Center and the National Communications System.

The division will identify, analyze and reduce cyber threats and vulnerabilities; disseminate threat information and alerts; coordinate incident response; and provide technical assistance in operations and recovery planning, DHS said.

'The theme is to think big, act small and scale fast,' Liscouski said. 'That might mean we're making mistakes, as well ' but we're not going to sit back and wait for the perfect moment to come by.'

Industry groups supported the action.

'This is a welcome move by the department, and industry looks forward to working closely with this important new unit of DHS,' said Robert Holleyman, president and chief executive officer of the Business Software Alliance, a trade group.

The Information Technology Association of America, while pleased at the creation of NCSD, still is concerned over the loss of clout.

'While the director position was not given the rank within the Administration that we believe it merits, the fact that assistant secretary for infrastructure protection Bob Liscouski has agreed to build an organization under him that coordinates the cybersecurity activities of the various offices within DHS and other agencies, and serves as the central point of contact for the private sector, shows his resolve to address cybersecurity challenges head-on,' said Harris Miller, ITAA's president.

Liscouski said the department is kicking off the search for a person to head the new division. 'Name recognition is important, as long as [the person] is credible,' he said.

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