President Donald Trump has nominated Christopher Krebs as underecretary for the Department of Homeland Security’s National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD), a position that oversees a key department office in charge of various national cybersecurity efforts.
Krebs’ nomination coincides with the recent passage of an important bill in the House of Representatives that would reorganize NPPD the “Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency” (CISA). This proposed change, according to senior U.S. officials, could help in recruitment efforts and to clarify the organization’s duties across the federal government, making it clear that CISA is a leading agency when it comes to responding to major cyberattacks affecting the private sector.
Currently, NPPD is tasked with coordinating and assisting in the digital defense of critical infrastructure properties, including those tied to the U.S. electrical grid, financial markets and federal election systems. If the new-look office becomes a reality, U.S. officials expect that DHS will be able to take on additional projects as the larger department finds itself continuously facing a bevy of cyber threats.
Over the last year, senior Homeland Security officials — including Krebs, current Secretary of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and Deputy Secretary Elaine Duke — have lobbied lawmakers to support a cybersecurity-oriented reorganization effort within DHS. Krebs’ appointment, which is subject to congressional approval, in addition to the proposed rebranding is related to this overarching plan.
Sources say that DHS is in the final phases of selecting a deputy to follow Krebs’ appointment.
Prior to the nomination, Krebs was a cybersecurity policy executive for Microsoft and vice-chair of the National Cyber Security Alliance. He joined DHS in March 2017 as a senior counselor to then-Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly.
In a statement sent to reporters, Rep. Jim Langevin, D-RI, said he supported Krebs’ nomination.
“The Trump Administration has moved far too slowly to fill vital cybersecurity roles across government. That said, I must commend the choice of Assistant Secretary Chris Krebs to lead NPPD,” said Langevin. “I have known Chris for years, and both in and out of government, he has shown a steadfast commitment to advancing policies that will improve our homeland security, particularly in the cyber domain.”
He continued, “Chris’ nomination also highlights the urgent need to reform NPPD. Reorganization of the Directorate in the Cybersecurity Infrastructure Security Agency is long overdue, and I hope the Senate will move quickly to take up the House-passed bill that will allow the organization to continue to evolve.”