Chris Inglis formally sworn in as national cyber director

Chris Inglis formally sworn in as national cyber director
© Greg Nash

Former National Security Agency Deputy Director Chris Inglis was formally sworn in as the first White House national cyber director on Monday.

Inglis’s swearing-in, confirmed to The Hill by a spokesperson for the White House’s National Security Council, came almost a month after the Senate unanimously approved his nomination and follows multiple major cybersecurity incidents such as last week’s ransomware attack on software group Kaseya. 

Bloomberg Government first reported Inglis's planned swearing-in late last week.

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Inglis will be the first to serve as the White House cyber czar after the position was created as part of the most recent National Defense Authorization Act. It is an expansion of the previous White House cybersecurity coordinator role that was eliminated in 2018 under the Trump administration.

The position is intended to serve as a coordinating mechanism for cybersecurity policy between federal agencies, Congress and the White House.

Sen. Angus KingAngus KingGOP skepticism looms over bipartisan spending deal White House cyber chief backs new federal bureau to track threats Manchin 'can't imagine' supporting change to filibuster for voting rights MORE (I-Maine), the co-chairman of the Cyberspace Solarium Commission, which pushed for the establishment of the position, on Monday praised Inglis’s confirmation. Inglis served as a member of the commission, alongside other members of Congress and federal officials. 

“The threats of cyberattacks aren’t just looming – they [are] here and harming us every day,” King said in a statement provided to The Hill. “America is a uniquely connected nation, but that leaves us especially exposed to bad actors, and our cyber vulnerabilities are being exploited to make our nation less safe.”

“Given that cybersecurity touches every aspect of our government and our lives -- from our laptops to the Internet of Things -- the U.S. desperately needs centralized leadership to coordinate the federal response to improve our defenses,” King said. “After serving with him for two-plus years on the Cyberspace Solarium Commission, I am confident that Chris Inglis is the right person to take on this vital role.”

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Inglis, who was confirmed by the Senate in June, was sworn in just more than a week after a ransomware attack on software company Kaseya impacted up to 1,500 businesses. It was one of the largest ransomware attacks in history.

While the Biden administration has not yet formally concluded who was behind the attack, cybersecurity experts have pointed to Russian-linked cyber criminal group REvil, which was also linked by the FBI to the ransomware attack on meat producer JBS USA in May. 

The Biden administration has been forced to make cybersecurity a priority from almost its first day, with President BidenJoe BidenFive takeaways from the Ohio special primaries FDA aims to give full approval to Pfizer vaccine by Labor Day: report Overnight Defense: Police officer killed in violence outside Pentagon | Biden officials back repeal of Iraq War authorization | NSC pushed to oversee 'Havana Syndrome' response MORE taking office a month after the discovery of the SolarWinds hack, which compromised nine federal agencies and around 100 private sector groups for most of 2020.

Following formal attribution of the attack by U.S. intelligence officials to Russian-government linked hackers, Biden levied a sweeping set of sanctions on Russia in April in retaliation and discussed cybersecurity concerns with Russian President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinRussian court sentences Navalny ally to 18 months of supervision Russia says 24 diplomats asked by US to leave by September Is Ukraine Putin's Taiwan? MORE during their summit in Geneva last month. 

King on Monday pointed to the mounting threats in underlining the need for federal cybersecurity leadership.

“His swearing-in is a major step forward for America’s cyber defense posture; now, it’s time for us all to get to work,” King said.