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Inglis to step down next week from post as nation’s first national cyber director

Chris Inglis speaks at the Council of Foreign Relations.

National Cyber Director Chris Inglis will step down from his role next week, retiring after almost two years in the position, a White House spokesperson said Wednesday.

Inglis was the first national cyber director at the White House, a role established by Congress in 2021 to coordinate a patchwork of agencies and departments all charged with protecting the nation’s digital infrastructure but which long had difficulty bringing efforts together. He will step down on Feb. 15, said Michael Morris, spokesperson for the Office of the National Cyber Director at the White House. CNN first reported that Inglis intends to leave next week.

It had previously been reported that Inglis intended to leave his position in early 2022, but the date had not been announced.

Current Deputy National Cyber Director Kemba Eneas Walden will immediately take over as acting national cyber director. The position is Senate-confirmed, and it was not immediately clear who President Joe Biden plans to nominate.

Inglis’ resignation is taking place amid the anticipation of the release of the new National Cyber Strategy, the first in five years, which is expected to lay out a roadmap for addressing major issues like defending critical infrastructure and disrupting threat actors.

Inglis has a long history in federal government, and served as the deputy director of the National Security Agency under both the George W. Bush and Obama administrations. He was a commissioner on the Cyberspace Solarium Commission, which published a report on ways to secure the nation in cyberspace in 2020, and over his career, he’s also spent decades in various positions at the NSA and the Department of Defense.

Inglis was unanimously confirmed by the Senate to the position in June 2021, and garnered wide bipartisan support on Capitol Hill. Inglis, alongside Anne Neuberger, the deputy national security advisor for Cyber and Emerging Technology, participated in issues including the formation of the Counter Ransomware Initiative to create a global effort to fight ransomware attacks.

He took over in the position one month after the ransomware attack against Colonial Pipeline, which crippled fuel supplies for the East Coast, and less than a year before Russia invaded Ukraine, key moments for cyber policy. Inglis also established and fully staffed the national cyber director office, working to integrate his role into the existing federal cyber oversight structure, which also included the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.

CISA Chief of Staff Kiersten Todt said in a recent interview that Inglis had been a “tremendous leader” who was “the best person for the job.”

“In such a short period of time, he established an office and a reputation and this ability to unify in many ways, this interagency process and he has been such a tremendous partner to CISA,” Todt said.


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