US Administration Renews Cyber-Security Focus

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The White House. Image credit: US government

Incoming US administration set to place experienced cyber-security officials in key posts, as country grapples with massive SolarWinds hack

The incoming US administration is set to appoint cyber-security officials that indicate a renewed focus on digital security.

The appointments come as as the US grapples with the SolarWinds hack, which affected a number of federal and state government agencies, as well as private companies.

President Joe Biden is likely to appoint Jen Easterly, a veteran of the National Security Council and the military and intelligence communities, as national cyber director, according to several reports.

The newly created White House post guides the administration’s cyber-security strategy and oversees agencies’ digital security.

M2M: The Future of Cybersecurity

Key posts

Robert Silvers, a former assistant secretary at the Department of Homeland Security, is likely to be tapped to head the DHS’ Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), which protects US critical infrastructure and federal computer networks.

Finally, Biden is likely to appoint Eric Goldstein, also a veteran of the DHS, to lead CISA’s cybersecurity division, one of the agency’s key departments.

The CISA appointments are particularly critical at a time when the agency is struggling to cope with the fallout of the unprecedented SolarWinds hack, disclosed in December.

US intelligence agencies have publicly attributed the hack to Russian state actors, while the Russian government has denied involvement.

Security focus

CISA has been without a director since Chris Krebs was fired from the post in November, in the wake of then-president Donald Trump’s election defeat.

The Trump administration generally placed cyber-security on the back burner, discontinuing the White House’s Cybersecurity Coordinator position and reducing the State Department’s cyber diplomacy wing.

All of the potential candidates have extensive cyber-security experience, with Easterly being a former high-ranking National Security Agency official who helped create the US Cyber Command.

Easterly, Silvers and Goldstein all held posts under the Obama administration, in which Biden served as vice-president.

Experience

Biden’s National Security Council, which guides the administration’s security strategy, includes five experienced cyber-security officials.

The body is led by National Security Agency senior official Anne Neuberger as Deputy National Security Adviser for cyber and emerging technology, a new position.

Neuberger formerly led the spy agency’s cyber defence arm.

Michael Sulmeyer is the council’s senior director for cyber, Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall is homeland security adviser, Russ Travers is deputy homeland security adviser and Caitlin Durkovich is the council’s senior director for resilience and response.

All four previously held senior national security posts dealing with cyber-security.

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