Private-sector IT execs see diminished cybersecurity role

Tuesday, 22 July 2003, 2:54 AM EST

This Friday marks the end of the 30-day period in which the U.S. Department of Homeland Security hoped it would hire a leader for its cybersecurity division. But there are serious doubts about whether the DHS will be able to hire the right person this week or even in the foreseeable future.

According to the former top cybersecurity adviser to the president, a high-level source in the DHS and IT industry executives, many of the most qualified candidates have been turned off by what they perceive as the administration's surprising change of heart on cybersecurity.

"The elimination of the presidential position [of cybersecurity adviser] sent a message that the White House no longer cares about this issue," said Richard Clarke, former chairman of the President's Critical Infrastructure Protection Board. "They will eventually find someone who will agree to do it anyway, but they will be so hamstrung that it will take at least a year to regain the capability that we had in 2001."

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