The US Senate has unanimously confirmed President Joe Biden’s pick Jen Easterly as Director of the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA).
The Senate approval on Monday came as the administration is under increased pressure to react to a series of ransomware attacks that experts and intelligence officials blamed on Russian hackers, reports Xinhua news agency.
Jen Easterly is the second Senate-confirmed Director to lead CISA since its creation in November 2018.
Easterly previously served as the deputy for counterterrorism at the National Security Agency, and as the senior director for counterterrorism on the White House National Security Council under former President Barack Obama.
Before the Senate approved Easterly’s nomination through unanimous consent, Senator Gary Peters, a Michigan Democra who chairs the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, expressed frustration that the nominee, who sailed through her confirmation hearing last month, was not confirmed earlier.
In criticising Republicans for delaying Easterly’s confirmation, Peters highlighted the “relentless targeting of the US” by “nation state actors and criminal organizations” that persisted between now and the time the Senate adjourned for the Fourth of July holiday.
Rick Scott, Republican senator from Florida, blocked a proposed unanimous consent vote on Easterly’s confirmation on June 23, arguing the vote should be delayed until after Vice President Kamala Harris’s visit to the US-Mexico border, which happened two days afterward.
Peters in his remarks on Monday pointed to the ransomware attack on software group Kaseya earlier this month that hit up to 1,500 businesses worldwide.
Cybersecurity experts have blamed the attack on Russian-linked cybercriminal group “REvil”, which the Federal Bureau of Investigation said was also behind the ransomware attack in May on meat producer JBS USA.
Established in 2018, CISA is responsible for helping both government agencies and private-sector organizations defend against cybersecurity threats posed to critical infrastructure.