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US-CERT director gives no reason for departure

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The head of a group that helps the federal government ward off computer attacks abruptly resigned Friday, amid a spate of high-profile assaults hitting government agencies and contractors.

The departure of US Computer Emergency Readiness Team director Randy Vickers was first reported Monday by InformationWeek, which cited an internal email sent to US-CERT staff. The email gave no reason for the resignation, which is effective immediately.

Over the past six months, security breaches have hit a variety of government contractors and partners, including Lockheed Martin, L3 Communications, and affiliates of the FBI. Attacks have also successfully targeted the CIA, the US Senate, and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

A data breach at RSA Security, which provides two-factor authentication services for many government agencies and contractors, has fueled concern that the networks used by many customers of RSA's SecurID are open to new threats as a result.

US-CERT is the operations arm of the Department of Homeland Security. It's responsible for responding to and defending against attacks on federal government computers and networks. It also helps secure private networks that are considered a part of the country's critical infrastructure.

Current US-CERT deputy director Lee Rock will serve as interim director until a replacement is named. ®

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