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GovInfoSecurity: Top 10 Influencers in Government IT Security

Top 10 Influencers in Government IT Security
Our Annual List of Top Security Leaders
GovInfoSecurity — By Eric Chabrow

To acknowledge leaders who are playing a critical role in shaping the way governments approach information security and privacy, GovInfoSecurity announces its fourth annual list of Influencers.


GovInfoSecurity presents its fourth annual ranking of 10 individuals who we see shaping the way that governments approach information security in 2013.

What makes an Influencer? It's a combination of position and know-how. Plus, each of the Influencers has demonstrated the ability to lead and collaborate, characteristics of individuals who have a proven history on getting things done.

How did we choose the Influencers? We queried the GovInfoSecurity board of advisers and other government IT security thought-leaders and experts to identify candidates, with the editors making the final decision on the 2013 lineup.

10. Chris Buse
Chief Information Security Officer, State of Minnesota

Buse is the type of CISO other CISOs call when they're stumped. "When I have an issue kicking around, I'll pick up the phone to call Chris," says a veteran state CISO. Buse, who's passionate about his job, is a visionary who implements his vision. "He's an incredible advocate to improve the cyber posture," another IT security official says.

9. Ron Ross
Fellow and Leader, FISMA Implementation Project, National Institute of Standards and Technology

Ross knows more about information risk management than anyone else in the federal government. He wrote the book on it, or at least the NIST guidance, as principal architect of NIST's risk management framework. Ross leads the Joint Task Force Transformation Initiative, a partnership with NIST, the Department of Defense and the intelligence community, that has developed a unified information security framework for the federal government.

8. Michael McCaul
Chairman, House Homeland Security Committee

McCaul assumes the chairmanship of the panel in the new 113th Congress, and among its oversight responsibilities is defining the government's role in helping secure the nation's public and private critical IT systems. The Texas Republican is no novice to IT security; he co-founded the House Cybersecurity Caucus and served as one of the co-chairs of the Commission on Cybersecurity for the 44th Presidency, an elite panel that advised President Obama on cyberspace policy when he took office.

7. Steven VanRoekel
Chief Information Officer, United States Government

VanRoekel's statutory title is administrator for e-government and information technology in the White House Office of Management and Budget. In that role, he oversees budgeting on IT security matters, an even more important task as the federal government reins in its budget deficit. Directives pushing agencies to adopt continuous monitoring emanate from VanRoekel's OMB office.

6. Mark Weatherford
Deputy Undersecretary for Cybersecurity, National Protection and Programs Directorate, Department of Homeland Security

President Obama is giving the Department of Homeland Security more sway in overseeing civilian agency cybersecurity and serving as the main contact with private-sector critical infrastructure owners on safeguarding IT networks. At the nexus of this is Weatherford, whose background as CISO of California and Colorado and CSO at the North American Electric Reliability Corp., an industry group, makes him well suited for these roles.

5. Tom Carper
Chairman, Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee

With the retirement of Sen. Joe Lieberman, Carper moves up to the chairmanship of the panel that deals with national cybersecurity protection and federal government IT security governance. In the past two Congresses, the Delaware Democrat chaired the subcommittee with IT security oversight, and his FISMA reform legislation was incorporated in the Cybersecurity Act of 2012.

4. Keith Alexander
Director, National Security Agency, and Commander, United States Cyber Command

The four-star Army general oversees the most respected IT security agency in or out of government, the NSA, as well as the 2½-year-old Cyber Command. Both organizations are crucial to the defense of military IT networks, and Alexander contends that the military's role goes beyond the physical protection of the nation from our adversaries to include safeguarding American assets in cyberspace as well.

3. Will Pelgrin
CEO, Center for Internet Security, and Founder, Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center

Pelgrin, the former top IT security official in New York State, runs an expanding organization that enables states to share and analyze threat information and provides local, state and tribal governments with IT security benchmarks and discounts to procure software, hardware and services. A colleague once characterized Pelgrin as a CISO's CISO, a "cool testament" to the type of leaders emanating out of state government.

2. Michael Daniel
Special Assistant to the President and White House Cybersecurity Coordinator

When Daniel replaced Howard Schmidt last June, some of the most-connected people in Washington's cybersecurity community had never heard of him. As the Office of Management and Budget intelligence branch chief for 11 years, Daniel stayed behind the scenes. He has retained that low-key approach in his new position. But don't interpret his virtual invisibility to a lack of influence over administration cybersecurity policy; he just leaves its advocacy to cabinet and subcabinet officials.

1. Barack Obama
President of the United States

As Harry Truman once said of the presidency, "The buck stops here." When it comes to IT security in the federal government, and the nation, the ultimate Influencer is the president. Though he's rarely vocal about it, President Obama maintains that cybersecurity remains a major administration priority.

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