Biden assembles top notch cybersecurity team

Former defense officials and investigators have praised President Joe Biden for enlisting a group of national security veterans with deep cyber expertise as the U.S. government works to recover from one of the biggest hacks of its agencies attributed to Russian spies.

Cybersecurity was demoted as a policy field under the Trump administration.

The administration discontinued the Cybersecurity Coordinator position at the White House, shrunk the State Department’s cyber diplomacy wing, and fired federal cybersecurity leader Chris Krebs in the aftermath of Donald Trump’s Nov. 3 election defeat.

Disclosed in December, 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 though Moscow has denied involvement in the hack.

Mark Montogomery, a former congressional staffer said Biden,Under a recent law, must open a cyber-focused office reporting to a new National Cyber Director, who will coordinate the federal government’s vast cyber capabilities.

Sources say the leading candidate for Cyber Director is Jen Easterly, a former high ranking National Security Agency official.

Now head of resilience at Morgan Stanley, Easterly held several senior intelligence posts in the Obama administration and helped create U.S. Cyber Command, the country’s top cyber warfare unit.

Easterly did not respond to requests for comment.

The Biden administration “has appointed world-class cybersecurity experts to leadership positions,” Microsoft corporate Vice President Tom Burt said in a statement.

Some observers worry, however, that the collective group’s experience is almost entirely in the public sector.They claim the distinction is important because the vast majority of U.S. internet infrastructure is owned and operated by American corporations.

According to sources, Biden will nominate Rob Silvers, who has also worked with the Obama Administration, to replace Krebs at the Homeland Security Department and to become the director of the
Cybersecurity Infrastructure Security Agency.

Biden’s National Security Council, an arm of the White House that guides an administration’s security priorities, 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.

Neuberger became one of the most visible figures at NSA in recent years after leading the spy agency’s cyber defense wing, drawing praise for quickly alerting companies to hacking techniques in use by other countries.

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.