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President-Elect Joe Biden Expected to Appoint First National Cyber Director in 2021

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Following the compromise of multiple federal agencies as a result of the SolarWinds hack, the expectation is that President-elect Joe Biden will appoint the first national cyber director (NCD), a position the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2021 will create, after taking office Jan. 20th.

“An NCD doesn’t guarantee you don’t have a cyber hack, either one that does damage or an espionage hack like this,” Mark Montgomery, senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), revealed to FedScoop on Tuesday. 

“However, what we think an NCD will do is significantly raise the overall readiness of the federal agencies in cybersecurity and ensure that there’s better public-private collaboration,” he added. 

Montgomery also stated that there’s a “drastic” gap between the cyber defense for the Department of Defense (DoD) and the intelligence community. 

The expectation is that an NCD would assist collaboration between federal agencies as well as industry to help close those gaps to integrate cyber-capabilities within agencies to protect against another SolarWinds-style hack and spearhead a national cyber research and development strategy. 

“I think the NCD position could, in fact, act to catalyze that strategy,” said Samuel Visner, a tech fellow at MITRE during an interview with Fedscoop. “They’d be in a good position to work cooperatively with the White House OSTP, but they would also be in a position — not only to reach out to industry and academia — but to help modulate the programs and budgets of the various agencies that have cyber research and development resources.”