President Joe Biden has announced his intention to nominate Jen Easterly, a former senior National Security Agency official, to become the new director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, a job that has been vacant since shortly after the presidential election.
Easterly is a retired Army officer and counterterrorism official at NSA who also worked on the National Security Council under President Barack Obama. She has extensive experience in Washington and in the private sector and is currently the head of firm resilience and the Fusion Resilience Center at Morgan Stanley. While she was at NSA, Easterly helped design what would become U.S. Cyber Command. Easterly also was part of the transition team for President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, leading the development of cyber policy.
Biden is also expected to nominate Chris Inglis, a former career NSA official, as the country’s first national cyber director, according to The Washington Post, although the White House did not announce that move Monday.
If she’s confirmed by the Senate, Easterly would fill a role that has been empty since President Trump fired then-CISA Director Chris Krebs in a tweet in November. Krebs was the first director of CISA after it was created in 2018 and was widely respected in the cybersecurity community and credited with leading the effort to ensure the security and integrity of the 2020 election. CISA is the main federal cybersecurity agency and is responsible for protecting the country’s networks and critical infrastructure, and it also plays an important role in the private sector, working with companies on intrusions and publishing threat intelligence and malware analysis, often connected to APT groups.
“Her incisive mind and tenacity will be great assets to CISA."
The potential nomination of Easterly comes at a time when cybersecurity has become one of the top priorities in Washington. A string of high-profile cyberespionage attacks, including the SolarWinds breach and the intrusions that followed it, has drawn the attention of the Biden administration and lawmakers both. Several committees in both the House of Representatives and the Senate have held hearings on the SolarWinds breach, and there are a number of cybersecurity and breach-disclosure laws pending in Congress at the moment.
Easterly’s nomination drew strong support from lawmakers on the Cyberspace Solarium Commission, a group made up both legislators and private sector experts that produced an extensive report last year on securing the country’s networks against cyber attacks. Easterly participated in the Solarium process by contributing recommendations as the report evolved.
“Her incisive mind and tenacity will be great assets to CISA as it continues to mature. Strengthening CISA is an essential part of the Solarium strategy, and Jen is just that – a strong pick,” the commission’s lawmakers said in a statement.
Inglis spent 28 years at NSA and is well-regarded in the security industry. He is part of the Cyberspace Solarium Commission and is a visiting professor in cybersecurity at the United States Naval Academy.
“If confirmed, Chris and Jen will add deep expertise, experience and leadership to our world-class cyber team,” National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said in a statement to The Washington Post.