White House eliminates cybersecurity coordinator role

There was near universal agreement that the cybersecurity coordinator position was important. But the White House disagreed.
Written by Zack Whittaker, Contributor

(Image: file photo)

The Trump administration no longer has a cybersecurity coordinator.

The job, seen as the most senior cybersecurity role in the government, was eliminated Tuesday by White House national security advisor John Bolton.

The position was designed to help coordinate efforts across government, but it had come under fire in recent weeks following Bolton's appointment in March.

Politico broke the news (paywall). Just a week earlier, Politico's Eric Gerller reported the White House was readying the elimination of the role, just weeks after Rob Joyce left the post to return to the National Security Agency, where he previously worked as director of the agency's elite hacking unit, Tailored Access Operations.

Geller tweeted that Bolton had emailed staffers at the National Security Council to tell them of the news, and he reportedly explained to them that the council's cyber team has two senior directors. Bolton was quoted as saying that "eliminating another layer of bureaucracy delivers greater 'decision, activity, secrecy and despatch.'"

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The role was seen as vitally important by many -- including Congress -- following election meddling and a spate of crippling cyberattacks in the past year.

Mark Warner, a Democratic senator and vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, tweeted shortly before the news was announced that the government "should be investing in our nation's cyber defense, not rolling it back."

"We also need to articulate a clear cyber doctrine. I don't see how getting rid of the top cyber official in the White House does anything to make our country safer from cyber threats," he said.

The White House's own economic policy advisors estimate that cyberattacks and malicious cyber activities cost the US economy as much as $109 billion in 2016 alone.

A spokesperson for the White House National Security Council did not respond to a request for comment.

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