Cybersecurity chief Beckstrom resigns

NEW YORK Sat Mar 7, 2009 6:19am EST

An employee types on a computer keyboard with both Latin and Cyrillic letters in Sofia June 23, 2008. REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov

An employee types on a computer keyboard with both Latin and Cyrillic letters in Sofia June 23, 2008.

Credit: Reuters/Stoyan Nenov

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - The U.S. government's director for cybersecurity resigned on Friday, criticizing the excessive role of the National Security Agency in countering threats to the country's computer systems.

"He has tendered his resignation," Amy Kudwa, a Department of Homeland Security spokeswoman told Reuters.

Former Silicon Valley entrepreneur Rod Beckstrom said in a resignation letter published by the Wall Street Journal it was a "bad strategy" to have the National Security Agency, which is part of the Department of Defense, play a major role in cybersecurity.

Beckstrom headed the National Cybersecurity Center, which was created last March to coordinate all government cybersecurity efforts and answers to the Department of Homeland Security.

Homeland Security said in a statement that it has a strong relationship with the NSA and continues to work closely with all of its partners to protect the country's cyber networks.

Beckstrom wrote to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano on Thursday in his resignation letter that the NSA currently dominates most national cyber efforts.

"While acknowledging the critical importance of NSA to our intelligence efforts, I believe this is a bad strategy on multiple grounds," he wrote in the letter posted by the Wall Street Journal on its website.

National Security Agency officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

Beckstrom said in his letter that the cybersecurity group did not receive adequate support to accomplish its role during the previous administration of President George W. Bush, which only provided the center with five weeks of funding in the last year.

His resignation will be effective March 13, the letter said.

The newspaper said the Obama administration was conducting a 60-day review of the cybersecurity program started by Bush last year to protect government networks.

(Reporting by Sinead Carew in New York and Christopher Doering in Washington; Editing by Anthony Boadle)

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