Harry Coker

Coker nomination for cyber director role advances to Senate

The Senate Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee advanced the nomination of Harry Coker on Wednesday, moving him one step closer to taking over as the White House’s national cyber director.

In a 9-6 vote, Coker ’s nomination moved out of the committee and now heads to the Senate floor.

Coker is a career naval officer who served as executive director of the National Security Agency until 2019 and has since worked for a series of technology startups.

He is slated to take over for Kemba Walden, who stepped into the role after the first cyber director, Chris Inglis, resigned earlier this year.

The White House was criticized for not tapping Walden for the position after she led the rollout of an implementation plan detailing how the first-of-its-kind National Cybersecurity Strategy would be executed.

The Washington Post reported that Walden’s personal debts were one of the reasons why she was not chosen.

Several sources previously told Recorded Future News that reason was “bullshit and nonsensical" and "defies imagination." Sen. Angus King (I-ME), and Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI) both called on the administration to nominate Walden before Coker ’s nomination was announced.

Coker appeared before the Senate two weeks ago, answering a slate of questions about how he plans to approach vacancies in the cyber workforce, election security, artificial intelligence and the protection of critical infrastructure.

The Office of the National Cyber Director was created by Congress in 2020 in an attempt to coordinate the federal government’s various digital security policy efforts.

Coker served in the U.S. Navy before retiring in 2000 as a commander. He held a number of senior roles at the CIA, including within its science and technology branch, before moving over to the NSA in 2017 as its executive director, the electronic spy agency’s third-highest position.

He left NSA in 2019 and went on to work on the national security staff of Biden’s transition team in 2020.

Coker is a senior fellow at Auburn University’s McCrary Institute for Cyber and Critical Infrastructure Security and serves on several corporate boards. He is also a partner at C5, a British venture capital firm.

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Jonathan Greig

Jonathan Greig

is a Breaking News Reporter at Recorded Future News. Jonathan has worked across the globe as a journalist since 2014. Before moving back to New York City, he worked for news outlets in South Africa, Jordan and Cambodia. He previously covered cybersecurity at ZDNet and TechRepublic.