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White House Drops Cybersecurity Coordinator Role

Written by  Paul Roberts - Cybersecurity Expert May 16, 2018

The White House has removed the role of cybersecurity coordinator following the departure of Rob Joyce, and many lawmakers and cybersecurity experts are not happy about it.

President Donald Trump's new national security adviser, John Bolton, has announced that the role will be eliminated from the National Security Council (NSC).

Politico reported that the decision is part of an effort to “streamline authority” and the duties of the cybersecurity coordinator will be performed by the two other senior directors on the NSC cyber team.

“Streamlining management will improve efficiency, reduce bureaucracy and increase accountability,” an NSC spokesperson told Politico.

The cybersecurity coordinator, a role that became an assistant to the president during the Obama administration, was in charge of developing policy for defending the United States against sophisticated cyber threats.

Several Democrat lawmakers, including Jim Langevin, Mark Warner and Ted Lieu, were against the decision.

“This is yet another example of the Trump Administration talking a big game on national security but taking steps that directly undermine our ability to combat emerging threats. As a computer science major and Air Force veteran, I can tell you that eliminating the White House cybersecurity coordinator will endanger our economy, critical infrastructure, and possibly American lives,” Lieu said.

Warner wrote on Twitter, “Mr. President, if you really want to put America first, don’t cut the White House Cybersecurity Coordinator — the only person in the federal government tasked with delivering a coordinated, whole-of-government response to the growing cyber threats facing our nation.”

While there are a few cybersecurity professionals who agree with the decision, but many believe eliminating the role is a huge mistake.

“This is a major mistake and a poor message to send to the world,” said Joseph Carson, chief security scientist at Thycotic. “Only a few months ago during the World Economic Forum (WEF), its latest report moved cyber-attacks to be the third greatest impact to global economies just behind natural disasters and climate change. If Mr. Bolton eliminates the essential White House Cybersecurity job without a concrete plan to keep all government agencies aligned, this could be the second greatest mistake by the White House following the withdrawal of the Paris Agreement.”

Sanjay Beri, the CEO of Netskope, commented, “The U.S. needs cybersecurity leadership today more than ever, but the current structure of our top officials needs to be overhauled if we hope to correct course. Forming a cohesive cyber defense strategy has become nearly impossible as hundreds of departments report into a siloed set of decision makers. Instead of eliminating jobs we need to be creating them, and the first step in the right direction would be the appointment of a federal CISO to oversee all of our nation’s cybersecurity initiatives and promote inter-agency collaboration.”

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