New boss, structure for U.S.-CERT

Cyber first responders at the Department of Homeland Security have a new chief.

Cyber first responders at the Department of Homeland Security have a new chief.

The U.S. Computer Emergency Response Team, US-CERT, and the Industrial Control Systems, or ICS-CERT, have a new manager as a result of a reorganization at DHS’ National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center, said NCCIC Director John Felker Thursday.

“We have restructured and added another deputy director,” Felker told CyberScoop. The existing Deputy Director, Rick Driggers, will be the deputy for operations, while Randi Greenberg Kieffer takes up the newly created post of deputy director for threat detection and analysis. Felker will oversee both the US- and ICS-CERTs.

“We are dividing it up functionally,” Felker said. The operations side of the house will concentrate on events and response, housing, among other elements, the hunt and incident response teams, the National Cybersecurity Assessment and Technical Services team and the exercise team — which helps plan cyber drills across the government.”


“Threat detection and analysis will have both the CERTs and that’s it,” said Felker. CERTs are the teams that assess and catalogue new vulnerabilities — and send out realtime alerts about them.

A third NCCIC element, Cyber Force Management, will handle human resources and other support functions.

Kieffer started last month, according to her LinkedIn profile. She was previously chief information security officer for the Transportation Security Administration, and before that served at Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Brad Nix will continue as acting US-CERT director for the time being, Felker said. Nix took over after the last permanent director, Ann Barron-DiCamillo, left in February to join venture capitalist firm Strategic Cyber Ventures as chief technology officer.

Felker was appointed to run NCCIC in August of last year, when Assistant Secretary for Cybersecurity and Communications Andy Ozment was given direct oversight of the center. The center maintains a 24-hour watch over government networks and houses representatives of key private sector industries, like telecommunications.


NCCIC also executes on the department’s governmentwide cybersecurity responsibilities, for instance housing the team which conducts vulnerability scanning of federal networks.

The new management structure comes as DHS’ proposal for a legislative reorganization of the National Protection and Programs Directorate — which houses NCCIC within Ozment’s Cybersecurity and Communications office — appears to have stalled on Capitol Hill.

DHS — with the support of the House Homeland Security Committee — wants to rebrand NPPD as the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Protection Agency.

The committee’s bill, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Protection Agency Act of 2016, would make NPPD into a component agency of the department, similar to the U.S. Coast Guard setup, with four separate divisions.

Under the bill, the new agency would have a cybersecurity division, an infrastructure protection division, an emergency communications division and the Federal Protective Service — which guards U.S. government buildings. But observers believe there’s little chance of progress on the issue before the end of the congressional session.

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