Dec 12, 2023 - Technology

Senate confirms Harry Coker as next national cyber director

Harry Coker Jr. testifying during his November confirmation hearing before the Senate Homeland Security Committee. Photo: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images.

The Senate voted 59-40 on Tuesday to confirm Harry Coker, Jr. as the U.S.'s next national cyber director.

Why it matters: Coker, once sworn in, will spearhead a range of the Biden administration's cybersecurity priorities, including implementation of the president's national cybersecurity strategy and an effort to harmonize a patchwork for federal cyber regulations.

The big picture: Congress established the Office of the National Cyber Director in early 2021 following the discovery of the far-reaching Russian espionage campaign that leveraged SolarWinds' software.

  • Coker is only the second person to be named the permanent national cyber director, following Chris Inglis, who departed the role in February.

Between the lines: Coker told senators during his confirmation hearing last month that he planned to just "continue the good work that ONCD has done with its partners."

  • However, it's still unclear how exactly Coker would approach continuing that work and how he plans to navigate a reportedly tricky relationship with the White House's National Security Council, which also oversees the administration's cyber policy priorities.

Catch up quick: Coker's nomination came as a surprise to bipartisan lawmakers and former government officials who were rallying around Kemba Walden, the former acting national cyber director, for the post.

  • Coker has stayed out of the spotlight for most of his career, but he brings decades of experience at the CIA and NSA, as well as experience in the venture capital industry.
  • Coker was also a member of the Biden administration's transition team focused on creating a short list for intelligence community positions.
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