Top DHS cyber-official steps down

The director of the Department of Homeland Security team in charge of responding to cyber-attacks resigned abruptly on Monday.

U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team Director Randy Vickers resigned his position, effective Monday, according to an email obtained by Hillicon Valley from Bobbie Stempley, acting assistant secretary for cybersecurity and communications. Deputy director Lee Rock will serve as acting director until a replacement is named.

DHS declined to comment on Vickers's departure, citing policy against discussing personnel matters. Vickers was named acting director in August 2009 following the resignation of his predecessor.

US-CERT is in charge of responding to and preventing cyber-attacks on the government's networks. Under the White House proposed comprehensive cybersecurity legislation, DHS would be given greater authority to safeguard the government's civilian networks and ensure critical private-sector firms comply with federal security standards.

The U.S. government has been the target of a several attacks by vigilante hacker groups in recent months, part of high-profile data breaches that have helped create momentum for comprehensive cybersecurity legislation.