Since the alleged ‘Russian hacking’ of various polling places, as well as the actual hacking of the Democrat National Committee’s (poorly protected) servers and the CFPB’s theft of banking information, which was hacked over 1,000 times, cyber security has been a top concern for many in the United States government. Because of this, it would seem that politicians on Capitol Hill would be a bit quicker to confirm someone to head an important cybersecurity and intelligence organization.
However, after failing to take cybersecurity seriously during the Obama years, the U.S. government finally confirmed President Donald Trump’s choice to head the National Security Agency. The confirmation process took a little over two months, and the candidate, former Army Lieutenant General Paul Nakasone, has ample experience and background in the cybersecurity sector to be an asset.
He will replace current NSA head, Admiral Mike Rogers, who has spent nearly four years as the head of the NSA, while simultaneously holding a position as head of the U.S. Military’s cyber warfare division.
Along with his new job title and responsibility, Lieutenant General Nakasone will receive a promotion, from three to four-star general in the United States Military.
During his confirmation hearing in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Nakasone tipped his hand concerning a number of key positions on the work he will be undertaking as head of the NSA.
Firstly, he said that he did not think that the U.S. cyber response to Russia, China, and other countries was bold enough or powerful enough to change their behaviors.
He also admitted that at this time, he was unsure whether U.S. Cyber Command and the NSA should remain a paired entity or become separate entities.
Some have recently claimed that splitting the two entities would allow better and more effective leadership.
Others have suggested that as the two groups have such similar goals, splitting them would make it harder for the two organizations to work together and coordinate against large threats.
Lieutenant General Nakasone has a long history in the United States military, and much of it is relative to cyber warfare issues and concerns.
Like many officers, he received his commission through a Reserve Office Training Program, in this case attending the program while attending college at St. John’s University, where he received a Bachelor’s degree.
He saw combat and earned a Combat Action Badge, and served in the Army Intelligence Corps, and has held commands at every possible level for an officer in the U.S. Army.
Prior to his promotion to Lieutenant General in 2016, Nakasone held multiple foreign postings, as well as working as a senior intelligence officer. He was also the deputy commanding general for the U.S. Cyber Command, and was given control of the United States Cyber Command’s Joint Military Task Force ARES.
Some may remember Task Force ARES as the cyber unit that took on the Islamic State in its various capacities on the internet, and across various social media platforms, as well as targeting members who accessed various information and websites and working to identify users.
In other words, of all the leaders President Donald Trump could have nominated to hold this post in the United States, he picked one of the best possible options.
Nakasone’s confirmation to head the NSA and U.S. Cyber Command was briefly held up in a principled stand by Senator Rand Paul, a republican from Kentucky, who wanted to know Nakasone’s stance on privacy and government surveillance of U.S. citizens.
After Nakasone submitted replies to Senator Paul’s questions last week, Rand Paul removed his objection and delay of the candidate, and Nakasone sailed through the Senate’s voice vote.
The Lieutenant General has spent much of the last few years of his life leading cyber warfare policy against such targets as Iran, North Korea, Russia, and various terrorist organizations across the planet. This makes him very fit to hold the post, and to oversee the NSA as well.
After years of lax leadership and obvious abuses of public trust at the NSA, it is hopeful that Nakasone will be able to restore some measure of integrity to the operations, and to run the organization in a way that will deliver a more robust to nations that think they can tangle with the United States and its internet presence.