Christopher Krebs: Truth and consequences
Krebs spent 2020 working furiously to ensure the integrity of our elections, while also ensuring that ransomware, software supply-chain vulnerabilities and a range of other rapidly escalating risks didn't cripple government operations or the nation's critical infrastructure.
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"Chris Krebs is an extraordinary public servant and exactly the person American want protecting the security of our elections," Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) declared last November. It was a sentiment shared by many across the federal IT community. And it came just minutes after then-President Donald Trump fired Krebs from his position as director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency via a tweet.
Yet while Krebs' dismissal for refusing to let election-fraud conspiracy theories go unchallenged is what drew the headlines — Trump reportedly was furious over a CISA-distributed statement that the 2020 elections were "the most secure in American history" — what actually earned him the Eagle Award began long before November.
As the first leader of CISA — he took over the National Protection and Programs Directorate on an acting basis in August 2017, and pushed hard for NPPD's promotion to a true agency — Krebs spent 2020 working furiously to ensure the integrity of our elections, while also ensuring that ransomware, software supply-chain vulnerabilities and a range of other rapidly escalating risks didn't cripple government operations or the nation's critical infrastructure. CISA's Rumor Control website was an essential tool for debunking disinformation about the 2020 elections, and an important step in CISA's increasingly public-facing role. Less visible, but equally valuable, were CISA's many initiatives to better support state and local governments and to provide federal agencies with the tools they need to monitor and defend their systems.
And while talk of a potential return to government in the Biden administration has so far proved to be wishful thinking, Krebs has remained an active contributor in the ongoing discussions about how best to secure the most critical assets of the public and private sectors alike. He continues to speak publicly about security risks and the dangers of disinformation, this summer joined the Harvard Kennedy School's Belter Center as a senior fellow, and frequently consults with both administration officials and members of Congress behind the scenes.
When Trump's tweet came down last November, Krebs responded with one of his own, declaring: "Honored to serve. We did it right. Defend Today, Secure Tomorrow." Those 11 words aptly describe an essential year of protecting both government and democracy.
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