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Christ Inglis, National Cyber Director, to Step Down in Two Months to Retire, Report Says

The US Capitol Building at dusk.

National Cyber Director Chris Inglis, the first person to hold that post, will step down in the next two months, a new CNN report said.

Acting Cyber Director Tapped

Kemba Eneas Walden, a former Microsoft executive who joined the National Cyber Director’s office in May, will serve as acting director, according to CNN’s sources.

Inglis is expected to retire after he steps down, the sources said. While there is reportedly no hard and fast timeline for his departure, one source told CNN that it likely will come after the White House releases a new national cybersecurity strategy to protect critical infrastructure from cyber threats and urge private industry to better prepare itself for expected attacks. Inglis has held the job since his Senate confirmation in June 2021.

The $1.7 trillion omnibus spending bill for 2023 provides $22 million for the White House Office of the National Cyber Director, marking the first time the federal office has received funding through an appropriations bill.

U.S. Cyber Leadership Void?

Inglis did not refute CNN’s report that he planned to resign but didn’t elaborate on it either. He said his goal in the position was always to establish the bureau and leave it on solid ground. Still, according to the CNN report, he may be met with some resistance to his decision to retire and to stay on longer.

The offices of Congressman Mike Gallagher, R-Wisconsin, and Congressman Jim Langevin, D-Rhode Island, both of whom have introduced and shepherded a number of cyber bills, told CNN they hope Inglis stays in his position at least until the new cybersecurity strategy is being implemented.

“I hope that Chris stays in the job until is complete – and beyond – but at the end of the day, he will make the decision that’s right for him and his family,” Langevin said in a statement to CNN.

Inglis’ appointment to the position followed years of calls from all corners to create the cybersecurity leadership position in the U.S. federal government to present cohesion to how the executive branch builds cyber defenses and response policies. Inglis stepped into the new role as pressure mounted on security officials to respond more forcefully to cyber aggression by foreign adversaries, namely Russia and China, both of which have landed a number of blows on U.S. government agencies and critical infrastructure.

Inglis, 66, formerly held the post of National Security Agency (NSA) Deputy Director and earlier worked as a Looker Distinguished Visiting Professor in Cyber Security Studies at the U.S. Naval Academy. He also was a managing director at investment company Paladin Capital and a commissioner at the Cyberspace Solarium Commission (CSC), which initially called for creation of the position in a series of cyber-related recommendations issued some two years ago.

Inglis worked closely with Anne Neuberger, deputy national security advisor for cyber and emerging technology on the National Security Council, and Jen Easterly, the director of the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA).

CISA Expects Funding Bump

Meanwhile, the appropriations bill that the Senate just passed, sending it to the House before it ends up on President Biden's desk for signature in hopes of avoiding a government shutdown on Friday, includes $2.9 billion for the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), a $313 million bump over its current budget.

CISA’s funding includes $1.3 billion for the agency’s cybersecurity programs, about $230 million more than last year. In addition, state and local agencies would receive $43 million in the spending package for the Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center, which provides threat intelligence, network protection and risk assessment services to thousands of public-sector entities nationwide. The new funding amounts to a $5 million increase from the amount Congress allocated in fiscal 2022.

The bill also directs $200 million to the Department of Energy’s Cybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response (CESER) office, $14 million above CESER’s fiscal 2022 budget.

In addition, $6 million would be directed for CISA outreach to non-federal networks, including critical infrastructure owners and operators, and state and local agencies, and $6.8 million to cybersecurity education programs in K-12 schools.

D. Howard Kass

D. Howard Kass is a contributing editor to MSSP Alert. He brings a career in journalism and market research to the role. He has served as CRN News Editor, Dataquest Channel Analyst, and West Coast Senior Contributing Editor at Channelnomics. As the CEO of The Viewpoint Group, he led groundbreaking market research.