August 2, 2021

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CISA Gets a New Director Amidst Ongoing Ransomware Dumpster Fire

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Photo: Kevin Dietsch (Getty Images)

America’s top cybersecurity watchdog, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, finally has a permanent director again—and not a moment too soon.

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On Monday, the U.S. Senate confirmed Jen Easterly, a longtime military and intelligence professional and former NSA employee, as the new head of the agency.

Easterly is the first permanent director since the unceremonious exit of Chris Krebs, who was fired by President Trump in November after refusing to endorse the President’s claims about election interference and voting irregularities. Since then, the agency has been helmed by interim director Brandon Wales, a longtime DHS employee.

Established in 2018, CISA serves as an operational component of the Department of Homeland Security, focusing on protecting federal networks, as well as providing cybersecurity guidance to government agencies and the private sector. It also focuses on election security and protections for critical infrastructure.

It’s hard to imagine someone with more qualifications for this job than Easterly. She served in the U.S. Army for some 20 years, focusing on intelligence and cyber operations—and actually helped stand up the Army’s first information warfare battalion. She has played different roles at the National Security Agency, including working with the Tailored Access Operations group—one of the most elite hacking units in the federal government. She has also worked for the Pentagon’s U.S. Cyber Command, served as senior director for counterterrorism on the National Security Council during the Obama years, has done security work for banking giant Morgan Stanley…you get the picture.

Whatever her credentials, it’s certainly good to have someone at the helm of our cybersecurity agency again because, you know, stuff hasn’t been so great in that department lately. The last six months have seen some of the biggest cyberattacks on the U.S. ever—from SolarWinds to Colonial Pipeline to Kaseya. The agency would seem to have its work cut out for it for the foreseeable future.

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