Cybersecurity: who are the new experts chosen to protect the United States?

In April 2021, the United States revealed that it had been the victim of a major cyberattack led by Russia that targeted Solarwinds, a company that publishes IT management software and monitoring tools on which many federal agencies depend. The administration had remained paralyzed for several days and, furious, Joe Biden had announced, in retaliation, the adoption of financial sanctions against Moscow and the expulsion of ten Russian diplomats.

So, a year later, in the midst of the war in Ukraine and at the height of tensions with Vladimir Putin’s regime, the White House sought to protect itself from a possible offensive mass and announced, this Tuesday, May 10, the recruitment by the Office of the National Director of Cybersecurity, of three eminent profiles.

Created on January 1, 2021 to advise the President of the United States on matters related to cybersecurity and to oversee how agencies manage their cyber defenses, the Office of the National Director of Cybersecurity, whose American acronym is ONCD, has a new first deputy director, in the person of Kemba Eneas Walden.

After having worked for a decade in the administration, first at the Ministry of homeland security then at the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, Kemba Eneas Walden, a law graduate from Georgetown University, most recently served as assistant general counsel in Microsoft’s digital crimes department. She was notably in charge of directing the anti-ransomware program. Note that Walden will become one of the highest black officials in charge of cybersecurity issues, an important fact at a time when Congress is threatening to reverse women’s right to abortion.

Neal Higgins arrives at the ONCD as an assistant to the Office after having worked at the CIA, where he held the position of deputy director for digital innovation and was in particular in charge of cyber cooperation and the security of global communications. Before joining the American intelligence agency, the man who also holds a law degree from Princeton University, held various positions in the Senate.

Finally, the White House communicated on the appointment as deputy national director for strategy and budget of Rob Knake, an expert in cybersecurity policy, who was previously a policy officer at the Council on Foreign Relations and in the cybersecurity department of Harvard, from which he graduated. Under President Barack Obama, he was a member of the Cybernetics Directorate at the National Security Council. Here is therefore the experience of Microsoft, the CIA and Harvard to counter the know-how of Russian hackers.


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