DHS cyber shop continues to push rebrand


The National Protection and Programs Directorate wants to change its name to match its focus on cross-cutting infrastructure threats.

Rebranding the Department of Homeland Security's cyber shop as the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has been a legislative challenge for the agency, despite broad-based support for making the agency more recognizable and accessible to the 16 critical infrastructure categories it is assigned to protect.

The change remains a critical piece of the directorate's operations, said Christopher Krebs, who heads NPPD on an acting basis and is awaiting Senate confirmation for the post.

"For me, CISA is a top priority. From a legislative perspective, it's my top priority," Krebs told FCW in an interview after making a speech at the George Mason University's Arlington, Va., campus on May 30.

The name change, he said, is currently in the DHS reauthorization act, which is waiting on a Senate floor vote since the Senate Homeland and Governmental Affairs Committee advanced the legislation in March.

Krebs said he is talking with Committee Chairman Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) about the change.

"It's critically important for a number of reasons, but No. 1 obviously is the name to communicate to our stakeholders, but also streamlining the organization," he said.

According to Krebs, the name change will also be a great help in attracting top cyber talent that is coming online after college.

"We're kind of getting into recruiting season. Schools, not just undergrad, but masters programs, are wrapping up now, so there are a lot of folks coming into the market that need that sign on the side of the building" that will better describe what the agency does, he told FCW.

NPPD's latest challenge is helping to defend the nation's highly distributed election infrastructure in the wake of Russian intrusions into local systems in 2016. With the 2018 election cycle ongoing, local and state election authorities have been busy taking stock of their cyber strategies and are reaching out to NPPD and other groups for assistance, Krebs said.

NPPD has gotten in touch with election managers in all 50 states, and "over half" of them have either taken advantage of a security service offered by DHS or joined the Elections Infrastructure Information Sharing and Analysis Center, which rolled out in March. He noted that just because a state hasn't asked for mitigation tools from DHS, doesn't mean it's not capable of protecting its systems, he said.

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 [email protected] or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


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