Christopher Krebs picked to lead NPPD

The current acting undersecretary brings both federal and private sector cybersecurity expertise to a position that is becoming increasingly important to the DHS mission.

Chris Krebs NPPD undersecretary
 

Christopher Krebs speaks at a Feb. 7 Senate meeting on reauthorizing the Department of Homeland Security.

The White House has nominated Christopher Krebs for undersecretary of the Department of Homeland Security's National Programs and Protection Directorate.

Krebs has been serving in the role of acting undersecretary since August 2017, overseeing cyber and physical security issues in the public and private sector. He has also served concurrently as assistant secretary of infrastructure protection at NPPD since March 2017 and was a policy advisor to DHS during the George W. Bush administration. In between those two public sector stints, he was director of cybersecurity policy for Microsoft's government affairs team.

Krebs is widely respected both inside and outside of government for his cybersecurity and policy chops. His Feb. 7 nomination came the same day he appeared before the Senate Homeland Security committee as one of only three officials charged with representing DHS during reauthorization discussions, a sign of how important cybersecurity has become to congressional overseers.

Rep. Jim Langevin (D-R.I.), co-founder of the congressional cybersecurity caucus, praised the administration's choice in a statement following the announcement.

"I've known Chris for years, and both in and out of government, he has shown a steadfast commitment to advancing policies that will improve our homeland security, particularly in the cyber domain," said Langevin. "During his time as assistant secretary for the Office of Infrastructure Protection, I have been pleased by the increased emphasis he has placed on assisting states with election security requests, and I am sure he will continue that focus in his new role.

On Twitter, Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas), a member of the House Homeland Security Committee who focuses on cybersecurity issues, called Krebs "a great pick."

Jonathan Spalter, president and CEO of the telecommunications trade association group USTelecom, signaled his organization's support as well, highlighting Krebs' outreach to the private sector.

"Mr. Krebs has been an exceptional leader in both the public and private sectors and will bring keen instincts and expertise to the position," said "Most importantly, he recognizes the value of working in close partnership with innovators in industry and especially the broad Internet ecosystem to sustain the global digital infrastructure."

If confirmed by the Senate, he will be the first permanent undersecretary at NPPD since Suzanne Spaulding left the post in January 2017 and will lead the directorate during a period of transition and elevated importance as the federal government's top civilian cyber agency.

The NPPD oversees cybersecurity policy for civilian agencies, serves as the main cybersecurity point of contact for private sector organizations and coordinates election security assistance to state and local governments.

The directorate has often acted the tip of the spear responding to many of the most high-profile cybersecurity incidents confronting the federal government over the past year, including the ban of Kaspersky Lab products, assisting private sector companies in the wake of the WannaCry ransomware attacks and coordinating the federal response to the Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities.

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