Painter to top cyber spot at State

Cyber law enforcement veteran Chris Painter takes the top cybersecurity role at the State Department

The State Department has a new chief at the head of cybersecurity. Chris Painter, who was formerly senior director for cybersecurity at the National Security Council, is now leading State’s new Office of the Coordinator for Cyber Issues, which will coordinate cybersecurity and other cyber issues across the Department and with other agencies.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced Painter’s appointment in mid-February.

A winner of Federal Computer Week’s Fed 100 Award for 2010, Painter served in the Justice Department's crime section before joining the administration’s National Security staff.

The news won quick applause from industry and trade groups.

The Business Software Alliance “has worked with Chris for many years in his former posts at the White House and Department of Justice. He has been a tireless champion for international engagement on cyber issues. We look forward to working with him in his new position at the State Department to advance a global cybersecurity framework,” said BSA president and CEO Robert Holleyman.

Similarly, TechAmerica President and CEO Phil Bond said his group has “long supported” the effort to get State to appoint a cyber lead, and that “Painter is an excellent choice.”

Painter has a long history with fighting cybercrime. Before joining the NSC, he served as deputy assistant director of the FBI cyber division and headed the prosecution of hacker Kevin Mitnick in the 1990s.

According to a CNN report from 1999, Painter described Mitnick’s crimes as “a countrywide hacking spree.”

Painter will lead State’s engagement on cyber issues, “including efforts to protect a critical part of diplomacy – the confidentiality of communications between and among governments,” according to the description of the job in the department’s Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review issued in December 2010, which established the new office.

Painter will report to Clinton and will be guided by a cyber advisory council comprised of senior State officials. He will also serve as State’s primary liaison to the President’s Cybersecurity Coordinator for activities that involve cyber issues, and will serve as liaison to other federal agencies that work on cyber issues.

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