Administration Powers Up DHS Cyber Staff

The federal government is restructuring cybersecurity leadership, as Congress prepares to debate legislation early this year that could increase the Homeland Security Department's cyber workload. On Friday, DHS officials announced John Streufert, a pioneer in threat-monitoring at the State Department, will be joining Homeland Security as the new director of its national cybersecurity division. The transfer follows the recent appointment of Marc Weatherford, a technical expert, to run DHS' cyber program, as opposed to the usual legal eagle.

John Streufert, State's chief information security officer, propped up an automated "continuous monitoring" system there that has since become the de facto protocol for detecting network vulnerabilities. At DHS, he will be responsible for instituting a program aimed at curbing risks to the nation's critical infrastructure underpinnings, such as dam networks and transportation linkages. Nearly all the competing cybersecurity bills would position Homeland Security as the lead agency for working with industry to safeguard commercial networks.

Streufert will "work to maintain and strengthen our collaborations with public, private and international entities to secure the nation's critical cyber infrastructure," Weatherford, the first-ever DHS deputy undersecretary for cybersecurity, wrote in a blog post announcing the hire.

Weatherford's position was created last year to elevate Homeland Security's cybersecurity profile, according to computer experts who have advised the Obama administration. He previously served as chief security officer at the North American Electric Reliability Corporation, a standards-making group of power grid operators.

Despite Streufert's groundbreaking efforts, federal auditors this summer bashed the execution of his department's continuous monitoring program for focusing only on Windows-based systems and not tracking weaknesses throughout all of State's domestic and global offices.

DHS officials on Friday also said goodbye to retiring Rear Adm. Mike Brown, who had served as DHS director for cybersecurity coordination. He was the department's liaison to the Pentagon's U.S. Cyber Command, during a time when the Homeland Security and Defense departments began to better synchronize U.S. networking resilience, officials said.