Gregory Touhill has been named as the United States government’s first federal cybersecurity chief, the White House announced Thursday, after a series of high-profile cyber breaches into the networks of the government that could be potential threats to national security.
The Obama administration has been increasingly stressing the need for stronger cybersecurity in the president’s last year in office. In line with this, Obama announced the position of a federal Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) in February this year. It was accompanied by a budget proposal to the Congress for $19 billion for cybersecurity, Reuters reported.
Touhill, who is currently a deputy assistant secretary for cybersecurity and communications at the Department of Homeland Security, will be expected to drive cybersecurity policy, planning and implementation across the government, the statement from the White House explained.
The retired U.S. Air Force brigadier general will be backed by the director of cybersecurity policy at the White House’s National Security Council, Grant Schneider, who has been announced as the acting deputy CISO.
Russia has been suspected of masterminding hacks into the Democratic political organizations and state election systems, according to U.S. intelligence officials. While Russia has repeatedly dismissed the allegations, Reuters reported that this may be an attempt by the country to establish some control over the impending presidential elections in the United States.
The announcement said that Touhill would be responsible for the creation and implementation of policy with regards to an increased standard of security practices across federal agencies. The CISO will also be expected to conduct audit to check for weaknesses within the system periodically.
As the position is a political one, Touhill, who will take office later this month, may be replaced in January next year if Obama’s successor decides to do so.