Former NSA Counterterrorism Deputy, Jen Easterly, was unanimously voted in as the Director of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) on Monday July 12, 2021.
Easterly becomes the second ever CISA director following the highly publicized firing of former Director Chris Krebs via Twitter during the 2020 election due to his rejection of voter fraud claims. Formed in 2018, CISA is responsible for protecting federal networks and offering security advice to critical infrastructure operators, small businesses and local governments.
Easterly was nominated in June, but the final vote was delayed due to political issues between Senator Rick Scott (R-Fla) and the Biden administration over immigration issues. Aside from Scott, Easterly’s nomination and vote was non-partisan with no pushback from either side. Easterly takes over from interim director Brandon Wales, both of which Krebs tweet his support for.
Easterly brings more than 20 years’ experience spanning the private and federal sectors, most recently leading Morgan Stanley’s Firm Resilience and the Fusion Resilience Center. Easterly spent three years as the special assistant to the president and senior director for counterterrorism where she helped develop and coordinate U.S. counterterrorism and hostage policy. Additionally, Easterly spent 7 years with the NSA, working as a cyber-advisor, battalion commander and deputy director for counterterrorism and helped to build the US Cyber Command.
As cyber-attacks continue to increase in scale and complexity, As cyber-attacks continue to increase in scale and complexity, Easterly faces very difficult and complex challenges as she takes over CISA including – protecting the nation from cyber-threats and increasing the trust between the private sector and CISA.
A few of the more notable and disruptive attacks include the Russian-based REvil, which recently became the largest ransomware attack on record, the Colonial Pipeline attack that led to gasoline panic buying and the increased targeting of supply chains, as well as the continued fallout from the SolarWinds attack.
The progress of an Easterly led CISA will undoubtedly be a primary focus throughout the Biden administration, who has shown a preference for NSA experienced professionals when selecting cybersecurity leadership. While Easterly is just starting this week, having a formal director and clear leadership is an important step for helping CISA fulfill their mission of protecting the nation from the cybersecurity threats of today and tomorrow.
The Schneider Downs cybersecurity practice consists of experts offering a comprehensive set of information technology security services, including penetration testing, intrusion prevention/detection review, ransomware security, vulnerability assessments and a robust digital forensics and incident response team. For more information, visit www.schneiderdowns.com/cybersecurity or contact the team at [email protected].
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