CERT-PL employees rally around politically-dismissed chief
The Polish government has fired the head of CERT-PL, the country's official computer emergency response team, in what the organization's employees have described as a dismissal based on the manager's personal political views.
Przemysław "Prezmek" Jaroszewski, who has been the head of CERT-PL since July 2016, was dismissed last week after he was summoned to a meeting with Janusz Cieszyński, the Secretary of State for Digital Affairs in the Prime Minister's office.
Cieszyński told Jaroszewski that higher-ups became aware of the CERT-PL's head criticism of the Polish government on his personal Facebook account, according to sources in the Prime Minister's office and the Ministry of Interior and Administration, who spoke with Polish TV station TVN24.
The firing angered many of Poland's top cyber-security experts, primarily because it was the first time that politics touched a previously apolitical institution, where skills and knowledge were believed to be the primary and only factors for holding a job.
Zaufana Trzecia Strona, a Polish blog dedicated to cybersecurity news, also pointed out that the firing also broke several protocols, as CERT-PL is a division of the Polish National Research Institute (NASK), and the Prime Minister's cabinet had taken extraordinary steps to bypass normal procedures to dismiss the CERT-PL head.
The move also didn't sit well with CERT-PL employees. On Monday, 32 of the organization's 40 employees published an open letter to government officials on the organization's website.
In the letter, employees show their support for their former manager and ask government officials to reconsider and think about the security of Polish internet users, many of which had been protected by projects set up during Jaroszewski's tenure.
"As employees of CERT Poland, we express our full confidence in Przemysław Jaroszewski," CERT-PL employees said.
"Working in this team for over 20 years and being its manager for the last 5 years, he had a key contribution to its development and the construction of the national cybersecurity system and our role in it."
Support for the dismissed CERT-PL manager outpoured from the Polish cyber-security community over the course of the week.
"Przemek is one of the most important people when it comes to coordinating activities related to cybersecurity in Poland," said Polish tech news site Niebezpiecznik.
The former head had allegedly played a crucial role in CERT-PL becoming one of the most active and well-respected CERT teams across Europe.
Although national CERT teams don't have the visibility and resources of professional cyber-security firms, in recent years, CERT-PL had authored many insightful reports on malware strains and open-sourced several cyber-security projects, such as n6, mquery, Malduck, DRAKVUF, and many more.
The organization was also described as "a forge of cyber staff" for the private sector.
Jaroszewski could not be reached for comment.
Catalin Cimpanu is a cybersecurity reporter for The Record. He previously worked at ZDNet and Bleeping Computer, where he became a well-known name in the industry for his constant scoops on new vulnerabilities, cyberattacks, and law enforcement actions against hackers.