White House Appoints its First Cybersecurity Chief

The White House has named the government’s first ever federal cybersecurity chief, a position that was announced eight months ago to spearhead the effort of improving defenses against malicious hackers.

Retired U.S. Air Force brigadier general Gregory Touhill will be the country’s first cybersecurity chief. His mandate will aim toward securing and protecting government networks and critical infrastructure from cyberattacks.

The appointment comes during a time when the Obama administration has prioritized federal cybersecurity during its last year in office. A number of high-profile breaches that has targeted federal agencies and private companies alike have highlighted the cause, bringing more attention to the state of the cybersecurity infrastructure among critical installations in the country.

An announcement from the White House read:

 In 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.

The new position was announced in February, along with a budget proposal by President Obama who asked Congress to spend $19 billion on cybersecurity across the U.S. government.

Touhill will begin his new role later this month and is currently serving as a deputy assistant secretary for cyber security and communications at the Department of Homeland Security.

The job is a political appointment, which would mean that Obama’s successor, as President, can choose to replace Touhill after being sworn in.

Touhill’s immediate responsibilities will include creating and implementing policies to enable best security practices across federal agencies and conducting periodic audits to test for weaknesses in the cybersecurity infrastructure.

The White House added:

Building on the Cybersecurity Workforce Strategy to identify, recruit, and retain top talent, the CISO will play a central role in helping to ensure the right set of policies, strategies, and practices are adopted across agencies and keeping the Federal Government at the leading edge of 21st century cybersecurity.

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