Sameer Bhalotra to Back Up Howard Schmidt?

Howard Schmidt

There have been some whispers in the capital that White House Cybersecurity Coordinator Howard Schmidt will shortly name Sameer Bhalotra as deputy cybersecurity coordinator. Bhalotra is the senior cybersecurity staffer on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and has held the position since 2007.

A report by Adam Ross of the SANS Institute claims that Bhalotra sent out notes on Wednesday night informing individuals of the pending move. According to an online bio, Bhalotra has served at the DNI, DIA and CIA prior to working on the Hill.

Melissa Hathaway, who led the 60 Cyberspace Policy Review, told GovInfoSecurity:  “I think it’s a testament to Sameer’s commitment on advancing a stronger cyber posture for our country that he accepted this difficult assignment. He has experience in both Congress and the intelligence community that is sorely needed on the National Security staff-Cyber office.”

Also, James Lewis of the Center for Strategic and International Studies said: “It’s a shame to see Sameer leave the Hill and SSCI, but this is a real coup for Howard Schmidt.”

SANS Institute head Alan Paller believes the addition of Bhalotra to the White House cyber team should be accompanied by making the White House Network Operations Center (NOC) permanent.

“He is probably the most technically tuned-in staff member on the Hill,” Paller said. “He’s an innovator and a team builder and a mentor to many others on the Hill where he headed the Senate’s cyber staff caucus.”

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