Top NSA defender departs agency


Curtis Dukes is leaving the National Security Agency to work for a cyber-focused non-profit.

Curtis Dukes, the top cyber defender at the National Security Agency, is leaving the agency for a leadership post at the Center for Internet Security, a not-for-profit cybersecurity organization.

Dukes, who headed up the NSA's Information Assurance Directorate, was bumped down the NSA org chart a bit during a recent reorganization – one of the biggest in its history – that combined the agency's offensive and defensive capabilities and personnel.

After the re-org, Dukes had the post of deputy national manager of national security systems in charge of the IA portfolio of the new operations directorate.

In an October 2016 interview with FCW, Dukes said that the NSA would still impose some separation between the signals intelligence and information assurance missions, and that industry could still trust the NSA for guidance.

"I think there will always be that argument that, well, how do I know if I'm talking to NSA I'm talking to the information assurance mission or to the signals intelligence mission?" Dukes said. "The short answer is that we do wall that off internally here [so that] if we're engaging with industry to help them better secure the product we're doing it for all right and honorable reasons."

In his new job as executive vice president at the Center for Internet Security, Dukes is responsible for managing the Security Best Practices Automation Group, which includes the CIS Security Benchmarks, the CIS Controls and the tools to automate the evaluation of these standards.

CIS also runs the Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center, which provides cyber threat prevention, protection, response and recovery for the nation's state, local, tribal and territorial governments and helps coordinate those groups with the Department of Homeland Security's efforts.

Dukes will focus on expanding the content of CIS standards and increase adoption of the organization's security best practices and standards. He will also lead the development and delivery of effective tools for scoring the implementation of CIS Benchmark and Controls standards and for automating the implementation of security best practices.

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


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