No replacement yet named for White House chief infosec officer

The CISO tasked with IT security for the Executive Office of the President has apparently stepped down, and it’s unclear if President Trump will replace him.

Cory Louie was hired by the Obama Administration in 2015, and reports vary on whether he quit or was fired. His departure has generated drama in the media, though it’s fairly routine for employees to leave when the White House passes from one administration to the next.

The news adds to uncertainty over President Trump’s cybersecurity plans, both for his own administration and the country as a whole. He outlined plans for an executive order on cybersecurity more than a week ago but has not yet signed one. A draft of the order includes provisions to:

  • Have the US military review what schools are teaching students about cybersecurity
  • Consolidate responsibility for protecting the government by giving ultimate control to the White House Budget and Management office. (Note: every government agency is currently in charge of defending itself. This has proved problematic in recent years, because each agency now has different procedures for individual networks instead of a more uniform program.)
  • Place blame for any network security incident squarely on the shoulders of the affected agency’s head.

If and when he’ll sign something remains unclear. In a recent Naked Security article on the draft order, security experts said the plans were ambitious, though they were skeptical about it having the necessary teeth.

CISO’s departure adds to concerns

Steve Clemons, an editor for The Atlantic, first reported Louie’s departure a week ago, but Zack Whittaker of ZDNet says he got confirmation on Wednesday.

Whittaker wrote:

Circumstances surrounding his departure, weeks after President Donald Trump took office, remain unclear. It’s thought he was either fired or asked to resign last Thursday evening, and he was escorted out from his office in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building across the street from the West Wing. His LinkedIn profile remains unchanged at the time of writing.

Trump has shown a knack for controversy since moving into the White House, and his approach to IT security is no exception.

It’s been widely reported that he continues to use an outdated Samsung Galaxy phone, even though he was issued a locked-down device similar to the one Obama had used.

He was also criticized for naming former New York City mayor Rudolph Giuliani as a cybersecurity advisor, despite no clear experience.