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Home » Hacking News » NIPC chief Ron Dick to retire

NIPC chief Ron Dick to retire

by Nikola Strahija on December 10th, 2002 Ron Dick, the director of the FBI's National Infrastructure Protection Center (NIPC), the cyberthreat and warning arm of the bureau, plans to retire this month, bringing to a close a 25-year career in law enforcement.


Dick, who took the helm of the NIPC in March 2001 during one of the most tumultuous times in the agency's brief history (see story-http://www.computerworld.com/securitytopics/security/story/0,10801,58837,00.html), is credited with helping the NIPC define its role and mission within a growing and complicated federal cybsersecurity bureaucracy and amid incessant assaults from an army of critics who often took aim at what they saw as a lack of strategic analysis coming out of the agency.

Navy Rear Adm. James Plehal, the NIPC's deputy director, will take over as acting director until March 1, 2003, when the agency is expected to be absorbed into the Homeland Security Department.

"Ron gets an A on the enforcement side [for] finding and prosecuting criminals all over the world, including the Leaves worm creator to the Melissa virus creator to the 'I Love You' creator," said Alan Paller, director of research at the Bethesda, Md.-based SANS Institute. "Overall, I'd say he made a substantial difference in fighting cybercrime."

Harris Miller, president of the Arlington, Va.-based Information Technology Association of America( http://www.itaa.org/)called Dick an "effective" leader.

"He has increased the coordination among the government organizations involved and has been tireless in his efforts to reach out to the private sector to increase information flow between the private and public sector on cybersecurity risks and cyberterror threats," said Miller.

Dick is also credited with helping to increase and improve the NIPC's analysis capabilities, bringing in the likes of Bob Gerber, a career CIA officer, to serve as the NIPC's chief of analysis and warning; Leslie Wiser, a new watch chief recently hired away from the NSA who was also the FBI agent responsible for nabbing CIA spy Aldrich Ames; and a Secret Service agent to serve as a liaison between the NIPC and that agency.

In one of his first steps toward demonstrating a coordinated federal approach to cybersecurity, Dick publicly introduced the Cyber Incident Coordination Group (CICG), which consists of select cyberintelligence experts from the CIA, the National Security Council, the Critical Infrastructure Assurance Office and the FBI. The CICG was formed late last year and conducts virtual meetings to coordinate responses to cyberincidents that may pose a risk to national security.

However, one of Dick's biggest challenges during his tenure came in July 2001. That was when the Code Red worm began its rampage through the Internet. Coming as it did on the heels of a series of critical reports from the General Accounting Office on the NIPC's performance (see story-http://www.computerworld.com/securitytopics/security/virus/story/0,10801,60773,00.html), Code Red was in many ways an important test of Dick's leadership ability.

"Everybody issued warnings, and yet we didn't reach a significant number of people who utilize the software," he said in an interview in his office at the height of the Code Red crisis (see story-http://www.computerworld.com/securitytopics/security/story/0,10801,62675,00.html).

"When I got here, we were basically a start-up," Dick said during that 2001 interview. "There wasn't a staff here, there weren't facilities here and no dedicated source of funding. We basically had to build those capabilities from the ground up. It takes time."

- article available at www.computerworld.com -


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