The U.S. names its first chief information security officer

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A former Air Force general and Department of Homeland Security official has been appointed as the first federal chief information security officer, the White House announced today.

Gregory Touhill will take charge of cybersecurity across the federal government, planning and implementing policy changes to make the nation’s critical infrastructure and government agencies more secure.

Touhill is the first person to fill the CISO role, which was announced in February as part of President Barack Obama’s Cybersecurity National Action Plan and has sat vacant since then. He will “play a central role in helping to ensure the right set of policies, strategies, and practices are adopted across agencies and keeping the federal government at the leading edge of 21st century cybersecurity,” according to the White House announcement.

Touhill’s appointment, which was first reported by Reuters, comes as the cybersecurity of the federal government has been increasingly scrutinized. Officials have attributed recent breaches of political organizations like the Democratic National Committee and of state election boards to Russia, and cybersecurity experts have fretted that the American election system is particularly susceptible to hacking.

Currently, Touhill works on protecting critical infrastructure and government networks for the Department of Homeland Security. He is expected to start his new job later this month, Reuters reports.

And although the task of managing cybersecurity for the entire federal government may seem daunting, Touhill will have help from his newly appointed deputy, Grant Schneider, who is currently the director for cybersecurity policy at the White House’s National Security Council. It’s not clear how long either Touhill or Schneider will have their new jobs — as presidential appointees, they could quickly be replaced by the next administration.

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