With more SolarWinds fallout, Biden enlists his cybersecurity team

WION Web Team
Washington, DC, United States of America Published: Jan 22, 2021, 05.32 PM(IST)

US President Joe Biden during his inaugural speech soon after taking oath Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

The US government has notably been working to recover from one of the biggest hacks of its agencies attributed to Russian spies.

US President Joe Biden has hired a group of national security veterans with deep cyber expertise, drawing praise from former defence officials and investigators.

The US government has notably been working 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. It 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 November 3 election defeat.

Disclosed in December, the hack struck eight federal agencies and numerous companies, including software provider SolarWinds Corp. US intelligence agencies publically attributed it to Russian state actors. Moscow has denied involvement in the hack.

Under a recent law, Biden must open a cyber-focussed 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. He has held several senior intelligence posts in the Obama administration and helped create US Cyber Command, the country's top cyber warfare unit.

To replace Krebs at the Homeland Security Department, Biden plans to nominate Rob Silvers, who also worked in the Obama administration, to become director of the Cybersecurity Infrastructure Security Agency, according to four people briefed on the matter. Silvers declined to comment for this article.

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.

The other four hires are Michael Sulmeyer as senior director for cyber, Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall as Homeland security advisor, 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.

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