Government Eagle Award

Christopher Krebs: Truth and consequences

Chris Krebs, former director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, photo credit: Getty Images 

Photo credit: Getty Images

"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.

About the Author

Troy K. Schneider is editor-in-chief of FCW and GCN, as well as General Manager of Public Sector 360.

Prior to joining 1105 Media in 2012, Schneider was the New America Foundation’s Director of Media & Technology, and before that was Managing Director for Electronic Publishing at the Atlantic Media Company. The founding editor of NationalJournal.com, Schneider also helped launch the political site PoliticsNow.com in the mid-1990s, and worked on the earliest online efforts of the Los Angeles Times and Newsday. He began his career in print journalism, and has written for a wide range of publications, including The New York Times, WashingtonPost.com, Slate, Politico, National Journal, Governing, and many of the other titles listed above.

Schneider is a graduate of Indiana University, where his emphases were journalism, business and religious studies.

Click here for previous articles by Schneider, or connect with him on Twitter: @troyschneider.


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