Biden enlists ‘world-class’ cyber security after the US government was hacked
To recover from the biggest hacks, President Joe Biden is hiring a group of national security veterans with deep cyber expertise, drawing praise from former defense officials and investigators.
“It is great to see the priority that the new administration is giving to cyber,” said Suzanne Spaulding, director of the Defending Democratic Institutions project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Under the Trump administration, cybersecurity was demoted.
In December, it was revealed that the hack struck eight federal agencies and numerous companies, including software provider SolarWinds Corp. U.S. intelligence agencies publicly attributed it to Russian state actors. Moscow denied involvement in the hack.
“Under a recent law, Biden must open a cyber-focused office reporting to a new National Cyber Director, who will coordinate the federal government’s vast cyber capabilities”, said Mark Montgomery, a former congressional staffer who helped design the role.
The leading candidate for Cyber Director is Jen Easterly, a former high-ranking National Security Agency official, according to four people familiar with the selection process.
The Biden administration “has appointed world-class cybersecurity experts to leadership positions,” Microsoft corporate Vice President Tom Burt said in a statement.
“The collective group’s experience is almost entirely in the public sector”, said one former official and an industry analyst who requested anonymity.
“Finding a good balance with both government and commercial experience will be critical to success,” said former DHS Cybersecurity director Amit Yoran, now chief executive of security company Tenable Inc.
Biden’s National Security Council includes five experienced cybersecurity officials.
Leading the hires is National Security Agency senior official Anne Neuberger as Deputy National Security Adviser for cyber and emerging technology, a new position designed to elevate the subject internally.
“The United States remains woefully unprepared for 21st-century security threats – the establishment and prioritization of a DNSA for Cyber and Emerging Tech on the NSC indicate the seriousness the Biden Administration will afford to address these challenges,” said Phil Reiner, chief executive of the Institute for Security and Technology.
The other four hires are Michael Sulmeyer as senior director for cyber, Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall as Homeland security adviser, Russ Travers as deputy homeland security adviser, and Caitlin Durkovich as senior director for resilience and response at the NSC.
All four previously served in senior national security posts that dealt with cybersecurity.