Director of US-CERT quits abruptly

Randy Vickers offers no explanation for sudden departure from U.S. Computer Emergency Response Team

Randy Vickers, the director of the U.S. Computer Emergency Response Team (US-CERT), has resigned from his position without any official explanation for the abrupt move.

Vickers' resignation last Friday was communicated via email to members of the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Cybersecurity and Communications (CS&C) by Roberta Stempfley, acting assistant secretary at CS&C.

The brief email, a copy of which was obtained by Computerworld, noted that Vickers' last effective day at the US-CERT was last Friday. The email said that Lee Rock, the deputy director for US-CERT, will serve as the interim director until a new one is named.

"Lee has been the Deputy Director for US-CERT for over a year and we are confident that our organization will continue its strong performance under his leadership," Stempfley said in her email. "We wish Randy success in his future endeavors," she added.

The US-CERT is part of the National Cyber Security Division at the National Institute of Standards and Technology. It is responsible for analyzing and mitigating threats to federal networks and for coordinating information sharing between the government and the private sector.

In his role as director, Vickers was oversaw all operational aspects at CERT.

Vickers' abrupt departure is not entirely surprising given the tremendous pressure he is likely to have faced as head of the group, said Tom Kellerman, chief technology officer at AirPatrol.

"It is one of the toughest jobs in America. It's like being a fire fighter in Texas," said Kellerman who was a member of a commission that developed a set of cybersecurity recommendations for President Obama two years ago.

During the past few months, there has beeb an exponential increase in cybersecurity incidents against both government and commercial targets, Kellerman said.

While Vickers must have been under a lot of pressure to deal with the attacks, his ability to was somewhat limited, he said. "The US-CERT is insufficiently empowered right now. They are just firefighters," Kellerman said.

"They need to be able to do much more preventative work," but are lilely being hampered because of internal turf wars largely with the U.S Department of Defense, which has a major role in cybersecurity.

Jaikumar Vijayan covers data security and privacy issues, financial services security and e-voting for Computerworld. Follow Jaikumar on Twitter at @jaivijayan or subscribe to Jaikumar's RSS feed. His e-mail address is

Read more about malware and vulnerabilities in Computerworld's Malware and Vulnerabilities Topic Center.

Join the CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Government use of ITIT in GovernmentMalware and Vulnerabilitiesgovernment

More about CERT AustraliaComputer Emergency Response TeamRockTechnologyTopic

Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by Jaikumar Vijayan

Latest Videos

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: The Human Factor - Your people are your biggest security weakness

    ​Speakers: David Lacey, Researcher and former CISO Royal Mail David Turner - Global Risk Management Expert Mark Guntrip - Group Manager, Email Protection, Proofpoint

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Current ransomware defences are failing – but machine learning can drive a more proactive solution

    Speakers • Ty Miller, Director, Threat Intelligence • Mark Gregory, Leader, Network Engineering Research Group, RMIT • Jeff Lanza, Retired FBI Agent (USA) • Andy Solterbeck, VP Asia Pacific, Cylance • David Braue, CSO MC/Moderator What to expect: ​Hear from industry experts on the local and global ransomware threat landscape. Explore a new approach to dealing with ransomware using machine-learning techniques and by thinking about the problem in a fundamentally different way. Apply techniques for gathering insight into ransomware behaviour and find out what elements must go into a truly effective ransomware defence. Get a first-hand look at how ransomware actually works in practice, and how machine-learning techniques can pick up on its activities long before your employees do.

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Get real about metadata to avoid a false sense of security

    Speakers: • Anthony Caruana – CSO MC and moderator • Ian Farquhar, Worldwide Virtual Security Team Lead, Gigamon • John Lindsay, Former CTO, iiNet • Skeeve Stevens, Futurist, Future Sumo • David Vaile - Vice chair of APF, Co-Convenor of the Cyberspace Law And Policy Community, UNSW Law Faculty This webinar covers: - A 101 on metadata - what it is and how to use it - Insight into a typical attack, what happens and what we would find when looking into the metadata - How to collect metadata, use this to detect attacks and get greater insight into how you can use this to protect your organisation - Learn how much raw data and metadata to retain and how long for - Get a reality check on how you're using your metadata and if this is enough to secure your organisation

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them Featuring: • John Baird, Director of Global Technology Production, Deutsche Bank • Samantha Macleod, GM Cyber Security, ME Bank • Sherrod DeGrippo, Director of Emerging Threats, Proofpoint (USA)

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    IDG Live Webinar:The right collaboration strategy will help your business take flight

    Speakers - Mike Harris, Engineering Services Manager, Jetstar - Christopher Johnson, IT Director APAC, 20th Century Fox - Brent Maxwell, Director of Information Systems, THE ICONIC - IDG MC/Moderator Anthony Caruana

    Play Video

More videos

Blog Posts