Senate Confirms Jen Easterly to Lead DHS Cybersecurity Agency

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The U.S. Senate has approved the nomination of Jen Easterly to serve as director of the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA).

Previously, Easterly’s nomination was blocked by Florida Sen. Rick Scott (R) until President Joe Biden or Vice President Kamala Harris visited the southern border. Following Harris’ visit to the border, Scott chose to move forward with a vote on the nomination.

Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI), who serves as chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and approved Easterly’s nomination, insisted on the Senate floor that Easterly should have been confirmed earlier.

“Before the Senate adjourned for the July 4th holiday, I stood right here and urged my colleagues to confirm her for this vital position,” Peters said.

“I warned that without confirming Ms. Easterly, we risked leaving ourselves vulnerable to cyberattacks, and in the two weeks since I last called on my colleagues to approve this critical nomination, nation state actors and criminal organizations have continued their relentless targeting of the United States,” Peters added, pointing fingers at the ransomware attack earlier this month involving software group Kaseya.

Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) participates in a nomination hearing with Chris Inglis, nominee to be the National Cyber Director, and Jen Easterly, nominee to be the Director of the Homeland Security Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, during a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee in Washington, DC. These cybersecurity posts will have a focus on implementing a national cyber policy and defense against cyberattacks. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

Easterly, who previously served as the deputy for counterterrorism at the National Security Agency (NSA), said last month during her Senate confirmation hearing that it is important to “anticipate the unimaginable” in cyberspace.

Easterly, who will take over from acting CISA Executive Director Brandon Wales, also served on the National Security Council as senior director for counterterrorism and was a special assistant to the president in the Obama administration. She also worked as a managing director of Morgan Stanley, placing her focus on the cybersecurity fusion center.

DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas praised Easterly’s confirmation on Monday, saying she “is a brilliant cybersecurity expert.”

“I congratulate Jen Easterly on her confirmation as Director of CISA,” said Mayorkas in a statement. “Jen is a brilliant cybersecurity expert and a proven leader with a career spanning military service, civil service, and the private sector. I am proud to welcome her to the DHS team and look forward to working together to protect our country from urgent cybersecurity and physical threats.”

Mayorkas also extended thanks to acting director Wales, concluding that “Brandon’s steadfast, superb leadership has been invaluable, especially as CISA continues to respond to rising cybersecurity incidents impacting businesses, government, communities, and critical infrastructure across our nation.”

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