• Gregory Touhill

Gregory Touhill (Photo : Department of Homeland Security)

U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. (Ret.) Gregory Touhill was named the federal government's first Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) whose mammoth challenge will be protecting federal informaton networks and critical infrastructure from cyber attacks and threats.

The White House's selection of Touhill, who most recently was Deputy Assistant Secretary, Cybersecurity and Communications, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, capped a search lasting some seven months.

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U.S. President Barack Obama announced the new position of CISO last February alongside a budget proposal to Congress asking for $19 billion for cyber security across the federal government.

Obama has made the improvement of federal cyber security a top priority. Cybersecurity, or the federal government's lack of it, has become more prominent because of an ongoing spate of attacks attributed to China and Russia, with the latter accused of hacking Democratic Party records.

Touhill retired from the Air Force in 2013. His final posting was Commander, 81st Training Wing, Keesler Air Force Base in Mississippi. This unit is the Air Force's information technology technical training center.

Touhill will begin his new role as federal CISO later this month. Touhill's responsibilities will include creating and implementing policy for best security practices across federal agencies and conducting periodic audits to test for weaknesses.

In his new role as CISO, Touhill will put to good use his considerable experience in managing a range of complex and diverse technical solutions with his strong knowledge of both civilian and military best practices, capabilities, and human capital training, development and retention strategies.

"Greg will lead a strong team within OMB who have been at the forefront of driving policy and implementation of leading cyber practices across Federal agencies, and is the team that conducts periodic cyberstat reviews with Federal agencies to insure that implementation plans are effective and achieve the desired outcomes," said U.S. Chief Information Officer Tony Scott.

"In creating the CISO role, and looking at successful organizational models across government, it became apparent that having a career role partnered with a senior official is not only the norm but also provides needed continuity over time," Scott said.