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White House names retired Air Force general as first cyber security chief

WASHINGTON--The White House on Thursday named a retired U.S. Air Force general as the government's first federal cyber security chief, a position announced eight months ago that is intended to improve defenses against hackers.

U.S. Air Force photo ob Gregory J. Touhill
U.S. Air Force photo of Gregory J. Touhill

WASHINGTON-The White House on Thursday named a retired U.S. Air Force general as the government's first federal cyber security chief, a position announced eight months ago that is intended to improve defenses against hackers.

Gregory Touhill's job will be to protect government networks and critical infrastructure from cyber threats as federal chief information security officer, according to a statement.

The Obama administration has made bolstering federal cyber security a top priority of the president's last year in office. The issue has gained more attention due to high-profile breaches in recent years against the government and private sector.

Most recently U.S. intelligence officials have suspected Russia is responsible for breaches of Democratic political organizations and state election systems. They believe it may be trying to exert influence over the U.S. presidential election, a charge the Kremlin has denied.

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

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Touhill is currently a deputy assistant secretary for cybersecurity and communications at the Department of Homeland Security.

He will begin his new role later this month, a source familiar with the matter said.

Grant Schneider, who is the director of cyber security policy at the White House's National Security Council, will be acting deputy to Touhill, according to the announcement.

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