29 Jul 2011

String of government site hacks leads to cyber chief’s resignation

Randy Vickers, director of the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT), resigned July 22. The Department of Homeland Security, which oversees US-CERT, would not confirm why Vickers resigned, but Information Week speculated that it was related to the hackings.

The series of attacks on the websites of agencies like the FBI, CIA and Senate reportedly was the largest-ever cyber crime, according to the Associated Foreign Press. U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynn said earlier this month that a foreign intelligence agency had accessed up to 24,000 computer suppliers from a Pentagon supplier, the Guardian reported.

A rash of attacks from the Anonymous and LulzSec hacker groups broke out after the government announced it would crack down on such activity. Sixteen alleged Anonymous members and two British teens were arrested in mid-July.

The operational arm of the DHS’ National Cyber Security Division, US-CERT’s primary responsibility is protecting U.S. government websites from such attacks. The agency will temporarily be headed by deputy director Lee Rock.