Former NSA insider Coker is White House pick for national cyber director
President Joe Biden on Tuesday announced he intends to nominate Harry Coker, a former executive director of the National Security Agency, to be the country’s national cyber director.
If confirmed by the Senate, Coker would fill a role that has been vacant ever since Chris Inglis, the first-ever cyber czar and a former NSA deputy director, stepped down in February. Kemba Walden, who served as Inglis’ deputy, has led the office in an acting capacity ever since.
Coker would be responsible for implementing the administration’s first-of-its-kind national cybersecurity strategy, which was unveiled earlier this year.
The Record reported earlier this month that Walden had been told by the White House she would not be nominated to permanently fill the post — despite widespread support on Capitol Hill and within the cybersecurity community for her.
The Washington Post reported Walden would not get the job because she and her husband had substantial personal debts, in part because their two children attend private school, and that Coker was being vetted to lead the Office of the National Cyber Director.
The organization 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.
In statement, Sen. Angus King (I-ME) and Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI), co-chairs of the Cyberspace Solarium Commission who previously urged the administration to nominate Walden for cyber director, said they "strongly support the decision to select" Coker.
His "long and distinguished career in government has included posts in the National Security Agency, Central Intelligence Agency and the U.S. Navy. We firmly believe that this experience — and the expertise and skill set it imbued him with — makes him highly qualified for the position of National Cyber Director."
is the senior cybersecurity reporter for The Record. Prior to joining Recorded Future News in 2021, he spent more than five years at Politico, where he covered digital and national security developments across Capitol Hill, the Pentagon and the U.S. intelligence community. He previously was a reporter at The Hill, National Journal Group and Inside Washington Publishers.