Governance & Risk Management

Cybersecurity Commission Includes Former Heads of NSA, NIST

Obama Also Names MasterCard CEO to Group Working on Strategies
Cybersecurity Commission Includes Former Heads of NSA, NIST
Ex-NSA Director Keith Alexander, left, joins the Commission on Enhancing National Cybersecurity.

Keith Alexander, former National Security Agency director, and Patrick Gallagher, who once headed the National Institute of Standards and Technology, will join Ajay Banga, chief executive of MasterCard, on the new Commission on Enhancing National Cybersecurity.

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The commission's members, appointed by President Obama, also include Tom Donilon, the former White House national security adviser, who was previously announced as chairman, and Samuel Palmisano, IBM's former leader, who is vice chairman.

Alexander, who also served as commander of the U.S. Cyber Command, is CEO of IronNet, a cybersecurity consultancy he founded in 2014. Gallagher left NIST in 2014 to become chancellor and chief executive of the University of Pittsburgh.

The commission, which holds its first meeting this week, has a Dec. 1 deadline to produce a report that will advise Obama and the next president on steps the government and private sector can take over the next 10 years to improve cybersecurity.

Other Commission Members

Other members of the commission named April 13 by President Obama include:

  • Annie Antón, professor and chair of the School of Interactive Computing at the Georgia Institute of Technology;
  • Steven Chabinsky, general counsel and chief risk officer at security provider CrowdStrike and former deputy assistant director of the FBI's cyber division and chief of the FBI's cyber intelligence section;
  • Peter Lee, corporate vice president at Microsoft Research;
  • Herbert Lin, senior research scholar for cyber policy and security at the Center for International Security and Cooperation and a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, both at Stanford University;
  • Heather Murren, private investor and member of the board of trustees of the Johns Hopkins University and the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory;
  • Joe Sullivan, chief security officer at Uber and former CSO at Facebook and assistant U.S. attorney for computer hacking; and
  • Maggie Wilderotter, former CEO and executive chairman at Frontier Communications.

The Republican and Democratic leaders of the House and Senate were invited to recommend one commission member each, according to the executive order establishing the commission. The White House did not disclose which of the 12 commission members, if any, were suggested by lawmakers.

Cybersecurity National Action Plan

The commission is part of the administration's Cybersecurity National Action Plan, which Obama said would require the government and business to collaborate "for the next five years, 10 years, 20 years, so that we can make sure that we get the benefits of the internet and utilization, and not the dangers and threats.

"They're going to be thinking about everything from how do we keep the huge databases that exist in the federal government more secure, to how do we more effectively work with critical sectors of our economy, whether it's the financial sector or our critical infrastructure, like utilities, to make sure their systems are more secure," Obama said.

President Obama discusses the Cybersecurity National Action Plan on Feb. 9.

The Department of Commerce's NIST will provide support to the commission. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker says involvement of public- and private-sector leaders would provide the perspectives of business, the tech sector, IT security, national security and law enforcement to address the nation's cybersecurity challenges.

"As the owners and operators of much of the infrastructure and digital networks that represent the backbone of the 21st century economy, the private sector is our indispensable partner in protecting the networks that are so essential to commerce, public safety and national security," Pritzker says.

About the Author

Eric Chabrow

Eric Chabrow

Retired Executive Editor, GovInfoSecurity

Chabrow, who retired at the end of 2017, hosted and produced the semi-weekly podcast ISMG Security Report and oversaw ISMG's GovInfoSecurity and InfoRiskToday. He's a veteran multimedia journalist who has covered information technology, government and business.

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