WASHINGTON, March 10 (UPI) — The official in charge of coordinating the U.S. government’s cybersecurity operations has quit, saying the expanding control of the National Security Agency over the nation’s computer security efforts poses “threats to our democratic processes.”
“Even from a security standpoint,” Rod Beckstrom, the head of the Department of Homeland Security’s National Cyber Security Center, told United Press International, “it is unwise to hand over the security of all government networks to a single organization.”
“If our founding fathers were taking part in this debate (about the future organization of the government’s cybersecurity activities) there is no doubt in my mind they would support a separation of security powers among different (government) organizations, in line with their commitment to checks and balances.”
In a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano last week, Beckstrom said the NSA “dominates most national cyber efforts” and “effectively controls DHS cyber efforts through detailees, technology insertions and the proposed move” of the NCSC to an NSA facility at the agency’s Fort Meade, Md., headquarters.
“I believe this is a bad strategy on multiple grounds,” wrote Beckstrom in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by UPI. “The intelligence culture is very different than a network operations or security culture. In addition, threats to our democratic processes are significant if all top-level government network security and monitoring are handled by any one organization.”