RealTime IT News

Former Cyber Security Chief Rejoins Private Sector

UPDATED: Three months after resigning from the nation's highest cyber security post, Amit Yoran rejoined the private sector Tuesday as a board member of Cyota, a New York-based security firm for financial institutions.

Yoran served as the first director of the Department of Homeland Security's National Cyber Security Division (NCSD), a position he abruptly quit in October, reportedly frustrated over a lack of focus on computer security issues within the Bush administration. The position remains vacant.

Before joining the government, Yoran was a co-founder of Riptech, an Alexandria, Va.-based firm that focused on government cybersecurity. In July 2002, Symantec bought Riptech for $145 million, and Yoran stayed on as vice president for managed security services.

According to Cyota, Yoran will be involved in the company's strategic development of new fraud-reduction and security tools. Currently, eight of the world's top 12 banks use Cyota's security tools.

"Online fraud is growing at alarming rates," Yoran said in a statement. "Financial institutions must protect their customers from financial fraud and identity theft. The company persistently continues to innovate and deliver a solution set that keeps pace with the rapidly evolving threat environment."

Yoran told internetnews.com he has spent his time since leaving the NCSD to "thoroughly examine [security] market innovations. Some say that the security markets are already saturated with technology. I would say they are saturated with yesterday's technology."

Yoran added, "Cyota is taking a real innovative approach to addressing threats to the financial services industry. They're having a significant impact."

Cyota CEO Naftali Bennett said the company primarily develops security tools for online banking and e-commerce. In particular, Cyota is currently focusing on phishing attacks.

Using a 24-hour "war room," Bennett said Cyota can spot a phishing attack and shut down the offending site in approximately five hours, as opposed to the usual three days needed to close an offending site.

"It'll be some time before the government can do something like this," Yoran said. "The government is not very adroit or adept. It lacks the authority or the technical expertise."

Yoran's resignation from the NCSD highlighted the ongoing struggle with implementing a national cyber security strategy. Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Bush dismissed a special cyber security board that reported directly to the White House and transferred the board's duties and responsibilities to the DHS.

In February 2003, the White House issued its National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace, a voluntary partnership between the public and private sectors to share security intelligence, reduce vulnerabilities and deter malicious entities.

The top spot at NCSD remained vacant throughout the summer of 2003 until Yoran accepted the position in September of that year.

Last week, in another blow to the DHS, Robert Liscouski, the assistant secretary for infrastructure protection, resigned.