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US appoints cybersecurity chief

After 14-month delay

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The US government has appointed a cybersecurity chief after a 14-month gap that left observers questioning the Government's commitment to the post.

Filling the job will be ex-trade association executive Gregory Garcia.

The decision was made over a year ago to appoint someone to a new post within the Department of Homeland Security, but no move was made. Garcia has now been appointed to the post.

The announcement in July last year created a more senior role of the person in charge of digital security for the US. That person would now be an assistant secretary for cybersecurity and telecommunications.

The post had once reported directly to the president, but was made more junior as physical threats became more pressing in the aftermath of 2001's terrorist attacks on the US.

Garcia will report to the undersecretary for preparedness, who along with two other officials reports directly to Department of Homeland Security secretary Michael Chertoff.

In December last year, five months after the post was announced and left unfilled, the Democrats released a report to the House of Representatives raising concern about the vacancy. It was one of 33 "unfulfilled promises" it listed in its report.

In his new role Garcia will oversee technology security policy. The Internet Security Alliance estimates that a quarter of the economic value of the US, equivalent to $3 trillion, passes across electronic networks in the US every day. With cyber-attacks becoming ever more sophisticated, Garcia's role will be harder than ever.

Before joining the Department for Homeland Security, Garcia was the vice president for information security and programs at the Information Technology Association of America.

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