Biden’s cyber campaign leader appointed the federal government’s CISO

• The Biden administration hired Chris DeRusha as a federal CISO and tasked him with coordinating cybersecurity policies among federal agencies. DeRusha was previously cybersecurity director for the presidential campaign in Biden.

• DeRusha, former head of cybersecurity at the White House and Obama’s Department of Homeland Security, announced the new position on his LinkedIn profile.

• DeRusha was the CSO and then the CSO of Michigan State until he was appointed CISO for the Biden campaign in June 2020, according to LinkedIn. From 2017 to 2018, he also worked at Ford as the head of application security and enterprise vulnerability management.

The appointment was widely welcomed by industry veterans, who said the Biden administration needed to quickly assemble its cybersecurity team to deal with a range of existing threats.

Mark Montgomery, executive director of the Cyberspace Solarium Commission, said hiring DeRusha was a great option, giving the Biden administration a combination of federal, state, and private sector experience.

The administration has yet to expedite the appointment of a national IT director and a director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) to complete the team, Montgomery added. President Joe Biden will appoint Rob Silvers, a former DHS IT manager in the Obama administration, as director of CISA.

“These two sticks will be essential in building secure and resilient federal computer networks and in building effective public-private collaboration to defend our critical infrastructure,” said Montgomery.

The federal CISO, attached to the administrative and budgetary department, manages and coordinates the IT security policy between the various federal authorities. The post was created in 2016 and was most recently held by Camilo Sandoval, who was previously CIO of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The appointment of DeRusha along with names such as Anne Neuberger as deputy national security adviser on cybersecurity to the National Security Council will provide the Biden administration with a group of veterans with federal agency experience and training deepened into the forces of the United States order and national security according to Charles Herring, CTO of WitFoo.

“These steps seem to indicate that the focus is on moving cybersecurity from a technical component of risk management to a more important part of the national security strategy,” he said via email. “The appointments will also give hope for stability to these departments, rocked by a turbulent wave of resignations and leadership changes over the past four years.”