Cloud Security, Threat Management, Security Staff Acquisition & Development

Private-sector fellows to work with CISA on cloud security, threat intelligence

Jen Easterly, director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, participates in a Women’s History Month discussion on March 22, 2022, in Washington. (Benjamin Applebaum/DHS)

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) on Tuesday launched the Cyber Innovation Fellows program to bring private sector experts into the agency on a short-term, part-time basis to lend their expertise to some of CISA’s most critical teams.

CISA Director Jen Easterly said the constantly shifting cyber risk landscape requires CISA to stay on the leading edge of important areas: from cloud security to threat intelligence.

Fellows will work as part of the CISA team part-time for up to four months and be compensated by their private sector employer. The first team of up to eight participants will begin this fall. Nomination packages for the Cyber Innovation Fellows will be received through July 8, 2022.  

“This new effort will allow us to partner even more closely with top talent from the private sector as they become part of our team for a few days each month to help us tackle some of the most complex cybersecurity challenges we face as a nation,” said Easterly.  

With this focus, CISA has shown its commitment to finding the “best and brightest” to help solve emerging risks, said Elizabeth Wharton, vice president of operations at SCYTHE. Wharton said the pandemic has changed the daily business of business, moving productivity and collaboration from the ground to the cloud.

“We’ve seen over the last year that threat actors are faster at finding vulnerabilities than companies are,” Wharton said. “This initiative is a forward-thinking approach. By bringing together the public and private sectors, they’re adding a layer of diversity which will also enhance problem-solving.” 

The Cyber Fellows program should allow for improved coordination between the public and private sector, said Christopher Prewitt, chief technology officer at MRK Technologies. Prewitt said there has been a lot of talk about the need for it — but little or no meaningful action.

“I believe both sides have the best of intentions, but there hasn’t been any improvement in outcome,” Prewitt said. “If executed well, this has the opportunity to help further shift CISA leftward, helping to improve and secure critical infrastructure and industries ahead of threats.”

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