Jen Easterly Wants Hackers to Help US Cyber Defense

RE:WIRED 2021: Tinker Hacker Sailor Sp0y: The Scourge of Ransomeware

Jen Easterly Wants Hackers to Help US Cyber Defense
WIRED, November 10, 2021
Security – Re:Wired 2021
By Graham Hacia

“For all the technology involved, Easterly says the hardest part is ‘about people and human behavior and getting people to change how they operate, and implement the basics of cyber hygiene, through authentication, patching, and software upgrades.’”


Jen Easterly has her work cut out for her. As only the second director of the US government’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), she must contend with a historic onslaught of ransomware attacks and disinformation campaigns. Easterly is a different kind of bureaucrat, however. She exhibited as much at the Black Hat cybersecurity conference in August, where she introduced new policy initiatives to an AC/DC-backed dance while wearing a “Free Britney” shirt and dragon-emblazoned jeans.


Her breezy style, though, isn’t for lack of experience. The retired Army officer previously served in the National Security Agency and helped the Department of Defense establish its cyberspace operations. She also acted as special assistant to President Obama on counterterrorism before migrating to the banking sector, where she headed cybersecurity at Morgan Stanley.


In conversation with WIRED contributing editor Garrett Graff at the RE:WIRED event Wednesday, Easterly related a big shift in cybersecurity to Douglas Adams’ Dirk Gently paradigm, where “everything is connected, everything is interdependent.” This interconnectivity is the product of our digitized world. “So the attack surface has grown, and the volume and variety and velocity of data has grown exponentially.” The result: There’s a cyberattack every 40 seconds and one in 10 of the internet’s 1.8 billion websites leads you to malware. “So the big thing that has changed is cybersecurity has become a kitchen table issue.”

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About the Author:

Graham Hacia writes for WIRED magazine.

See also:

Garrett Graff & Jen Easterly