The White House has appointed the first ever Chief Information Security Officer (CISO), a position that will look to improve the cybersecurity infrastructure and defenses of the United States.
At a time when data breaches and cyberattacks make everyday headlines, the attention garnered by cybersecurity has never been higher.
In February 2016, U.S. President Barack Obama announced a sweeping Cybersecurity National Action Plan (CNAP) in an effort to improve the cybersecurity posture across the country as well as the Federal government. To further underline the increased prioritization of the cyber-defense posture Obama’s budget proposal for 2017 to Congress is seeking $19 billion for improving cybersecurity across the government. During a diplomatic visit to Spain even stated:
There are legitimate concerns around how information travels in the State department.
It has to do with the volumes of information transmitted, who has access to them, concerns about cyberattacks and cyber security and I’m concerned about this throughout the government in general.
At the time, the White House also announced a new position – that of the first ever Federal Chief Information Security Officer – which will oversee cybersecurity policy, planning and implementation across the Government.
That position is now filled. Retired U.S. Air Force brigadier general Gregory Touhill will be the United States’ first federal cybersecurity chief, spearheading the effort to protect government networks and critical infrastructure.
The announcement from the White House explains Touhill’s tasks as Federal CISO. It states:
n his new role as Federal CISO, Greg will leverage his considerable experience in managing a range of complex and diverse technical solutions at scale with his strong knowledge of both civilian and military best practices, capabilities, and human capital training, development and retention strategies.
Reuters broke the news before prior to the announcement on the White House blog and cited a source that revealed Touhill will begin his new role in late September. Furthermore, the job taken by Touhill is a political appointment, which allows Obama’s successor as President to pick Touhill’s replacement, if he or she wishes to do so.
Touhill is currently the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Cybersecurity and Communications at the Department of Homeland Security. In his current position, Touhill already has experience in developing and implementing “operational programs designed to protect” the US government and critical infrastructure, the announcement revealed.
The Air Force veteran will also drive policy to implement sound cybersecurity practices across federal agencies and the government. He will be conducting routine audits to test federal agencies for weaknesses in their cyber-framework.
Cybersecurity is among the most relevant topics in recent years and has gained more prominence in light of recent breaches of the Democratic National Committee (DNC). It has heightened diplomatic tensions between the United States and Russia, the latter which is accused of instigating breaches by sponsoring Russian hackers. Such claims have been rubbished by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
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