President Joe Biden reportedly plans to nominate Obama-era officials to key cyber positions as the government continues to respond to high-profile digital threats.
According to Reuters and CyberScoop, Biden will likely select Jen Easterly as national cyber director; Robert Silvers to lead the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency; and Eric Goldstein as CISA’s Cybersecurity Division head.
DHS representatives directed requests for comment to the White House press office, who did not respond by press time.
WHY IT MATTERS
Easterly, Silvers and Goldstein all have extensive experience working on cyber issues.
As national cyber director, Easterly will oversee a new cyber-focused office aimed at coordinating government efforts to secure the country against hacking.
Now the head of firm resilience at Morgan Stanley, Easterly stood up the Army’s first cyber operations unit before serving as deputy for counterterrorism at the National Security Agency and as a member of President Barack Obama’s National Security Council staff as senior director for counterterrorism.
Silvers, meanwhile, is partner at the law firm Paul Hastings and is the vice chair of its privacy and cybersecurity practice. He served as the most senior official for cybersecurity policy under Obama, driving administration policy on technology risk issues.
And Goldstein, most recently vice president and head of cybersecurity policy at Goldman Sachs, previously worked at DHS under Obama, including as a branch chief in the cybersecurity and communications office. Goldstein had already been tapped as a member of Biden’s transition team, according to Politico.
THE LARGER TREND
Cybersecurity is yet another issue the Biden administration must confront in its early days of office, with the government still reeling from a massive attack that put the National Institutes of Health – among other agencies – in its crosshairs.
Many private-sector health systems have also been forced to scramble in response to the SolarWinds breach.
The federal government played a major role, too, in a highly publicized alert specifically aimed at health agencies this fall: CISA, along with the FBI and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, warned of an “increased and imminent” cyberthreat amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
At the same time, CISA has been hampered by unsteady support from other facets of the government. Former director Christopher Krebs, for example, was fired by then-President Donald Trump in November after CISA’s assurances that the 2020 presidential election was “the most secure in American history.”
“Healthcare clearly leans on CISA to provide insights to cybersecurity threats, and, given the multiple stressors on healthcare organizations today, we can ill afford any glitches in the capabilities of CISA, or their ability to quickly and effectively coordinate with valued cyber partners like the FBI, HHS and Homeland Security,” said Drex DeFord, healthcare executive strategist for CI Security, to Healthcare IT News at the time of Krebs’ firing last year.
ON THE RECORD
“All three of those folks have extensive experience in cybersecurity,” Obama Cybersecurity Coordinator Michael Daniel told Politico. “They bring a lot of skills to the administration, and I think [they] would be strong players.”