The Senate confirmed Harry Coker Jr. as national cyber director Tuesday, ending a 10-month absence of a permanent leader in the role.
The Navy veteran and executive director of the National Security Agency from 2017 to 2019, will lead the Office of the National Cyber Director and its team of about 100 employees after the Senate confirmed his nomination by a 59-40 vote.
Coker joins the White House at a critical time, with the onus now on him to implement the national cybersecurity strategy that aims to shift the responsibility for security to technology manufacturers and vendors instead of customers.
Coker is the second official to hold the position following Chris Inglis, who stepped down in February.
Kemba Walden served as acting director throughout most of 2023, shepherding the release of the national cybersecurity strategy and the implementation plan, which divides the strategy’s 27 objectives into 69 initiatives. Walden last month resigned as principal deputy national cyber director and acting national cyber director.
Drenan Dudley, who served in the role on an interim basis for the last month, applauded Coker’s confirmation.
“His four decades of experience in the public and private sector will further ONCD’s success. We look forward to his leadership advancing the work underway to implement President Biden’s National Cybersecurity Strategy,” Dudley said in a statement.
Coker will have to collaborate and partner with his counterparts in other departments tasked with cyber defense, including Jen Easterly, director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, and Anne Neuberger, deputy national security advisor of cyber and emerging technology.
The nation’s trio of leading cyber authorities are making an all-out push to ensure technology products are secure by design and default from the get-go.
“The NCD is effectively the ‘coach’ of the U. S. cybersecurity team, and I know that Harry will work diligently and collaboratively to protect our country,” Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, said in a statement.
The Software Alliance, also known as BSA, noted the critical role ONCD plays in forming and executing the country’s approach to cybersecurity.
“The ONCD’s partnership with industry, including software and technology companies that produce cybersecurity solutions, helps to set policies that ensure the U.S. maintains a dynamic and risk-based approach to cybersecurity,” Henry Young, director of policy at BSA, said in a statement.