Jen Easterly sworn in as director of DHS cyber agency

Jen Easterly sworn in as director of DHS cyber agency
© Greg Nash

Jen Easterly was sworn in Tuesday as director of the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), one day after the Senate unanimously approved her nomination. 

Easterly, who now leads the agency responsible for securing the nation’s critical infrastructure against cyberattacks, said in a statement following her swearing-in that she is “incredibly honored and humbled to join the team at CISA.”

“I have admired the agency from afar as the organization has grown over the past several years, and seen firsthand how its guidance, insight and resources can benefit public and private sector partners as part of our collective defense to build a more resilient nation,” Easterly said. “I thank President BidenJoe BidenHouse clears bill to provide veterans with cost-of-living adjustment On The Money — Dems dare GOP to vote for shutdown, default To reduce poverty, stop burdening the poor: What Joe Manchin gets wrong about the child tax credit MORE for putting his faith in me to lead this organization, and the Senate for confirming me for this role.”

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Easterly takes over leading the agency from Brandon Wales, who had served as acting director since November, when former President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump takes shot at new GOP candidate in Ohio over Cleveland nickname GOP political operatives indicted over illegal campaign contribution from Russian national in 2016 On The Money — Dems dare GOP to vote for shutdown, default MORE fired former CISA Director Christopher Krebs after CISA pushed back against election disinformation and misinformation. 

During this time, CISA has played a key role in responding to multiple major national cybersecurity incidents. 

These included the SolarWinds hack, which involved Russian-linked hackers compromising nine federal agencies and 100 private sector groups for much of last year, along with debilitating ransomware attacks carried out by Russian-linked criminal groups against Colonial Pipeline, JBS USA and most recently the IT firm Kaseya. 

“I'm also very grateful for Acting Director Brandon Wales and all of CISA’s leadership for so effectively shepherding CISA through an incredibly challenging and dynamic eight months,” Easterly said Tuesday. “I look forward to building on their excellent work to continue evolving the strategy, workforce, and culture of CISA to be the world’s premier cyber and infrastructure defense agency and achieve our vision of secure and resilient infrastructure for the American people.”

Easterly was nominated for the position by President Biden in April and previously served as the deputy for counterterrorism at the National Security Agency and as the senior director for counterterrorism on the National Security Council under former President Obama. 

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Her nomination was held up for two weeks after Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) blocked a vote to approve her until either Biden or Vice President Harris visited the U.S.-Mexico border. Harris visited the southern border late last month, and Scott lifted his hold. 

Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle applauded Easterly’s confirmation on Monday, as did Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro MayorkasAlejandro MayorkasHundreds of Haitians return to Mexico after expulsions from Texas begin A better way to reduce the backlog of asylum applications Biden administration prioritizing single adult Haitians, some families for deportation: report MORE, who described Easterly in a statement as “a brilliant cybersecurity expert and a proven leader with a career spanning military service, civil service, and the private sector.”

Easterly will likely work closely with Chris Inglis, who was sworn in as the nation’s first White House national cyber director on Monday, filling two key cybersecurity leadership positions in the administration.