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Federal cyber agency gets deputy director after months-long vacancy

Federal cyber agency gets deputy director after months-long vacancy
© Greg Nash

Nitin Natarajan on Tuesday was appointed the deputy director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), building back the agency’s leadership months after its top leaders were forced to step down. 

A CISA official confirmed to The Hill that Natarajan would serve as the agency’s deputy director, after Politico first reported the appointment. 

Natarajan previously served in positions at the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Health and Human Services, along with serving as the director of critical infrastructure policy on the National Security Council under former President Obama. 

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Natarajan’s new position at CISA has been vacant since November, when former CISA Deputy Director Matthew Travis was pressured to step down by the Trump administration.

His resignation came the same day former President TrumpDonald TrumpChinese apps could face subpoenas, bans under Biden executive order: report Kim says North Korea needs to be 'prepared' for 'confrontation' with US Ex-Colorado GOP chair accused of stealing more than 0K from pro-Trump PAC MORE fired former CISA Director Christopher Krebs due to CISA’s efforts to push back against disinformation and misinformation around the security and validity of the 2020 elections, including through starting up a “rumor control” website.

Other top officials at CISA also stepped down the same week as Krebs and Travis, leaving the nation’s key cybersecurity agency without confirmed leadership for the last months of the Trump administration.

Former CISA Executive Director Brandon Wales has served as the agency’s acting director since November, with the CISA official confirming to The Hill that Wales will remain in this position and Natarajan will not take over as director.

President BidenJoe BidenChinese apps could face subpoenas, bans under Biden executive order: report OVERNIGHT ENERGY:  EPA announces new clean air advisors after firing Trump appointees |  Senate confirms Biden pick for No. 2 role at Interior | Watchdog: Bureau of Land Management saw messaging failures, understaffing during pandemic Poll: Majority back blanket student loan forgiveness MORE has not yet formally nominated anyone to serve as CISA’s director, but Reuters reported in January that Biden intends to put forward Rob Silvers, a former Obama administration official, for the position. 

The agency recently got a boost with the confirmation of Alejandro MayorkasAlejandro MayorkasDeSantis: Florida officers to respond to 'border security crisis' in Texas, Arizona Hillicon Valley: Biden, Putin agree to begin work on addressing cybersecurity concerns | Senate panel unanimously advances key Biden cyber nominees | Rick Scott threatens to delay national security nominees until Biden visits border Biden expanding program for allowing young Central Americans into US MORE as Homeland Security secretary, with oversight of CISA. Mayorkas pledged during his Senate nomination hearing to make cybersecurity one of his “highest priorities” once in office.