Melissa Hathaway has announced her resignation as the acting cybersecurity czar for the US administration.

In a setback to the Obama administration's efforts to better protect the computer networks critical to national security and the global economy, Hathaway claimed that she was leaving the post for personal reasons.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Hathaway said in an interview that she it was ‘time to pass the torch', adding that she and her colleagues have provided an ‘initial down payment for what's needed to start to address cybersecurity'.

Hathaway was originally asked to lead a 60-day cybersecurity policy review in February that she completed in April. The White House spent another 60 days debating the wording of her report and how to structure the White House cyber post.

The result was a cybersecurity official who would report both to the National Security Council and the National Economic Council. Supporters said that arrangement would cement cybersecurity as a critical security and economic issue, while those opposed said it would require the new official to please too many masters and would accomplish little.

New front runners for the post have emerged in the past few weeks after Hathaway took her name out of the running, including former Clinton assistant defence secretary, Franklin Kramer, and Howard Schmidt, CEO of the Information Security Forum, who has served on several presidential cybersecurity panels.