CISA infrastructure security executive heading back to private sector

The Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency is losing a top official to the private sector.

Brian Harrell, the assistant director for infrastructure security, is leaving the agency after 21 months there. A CISA spokesperson confirmed Harrell would return to the private sector and deputy assistant director Steve Harris will take over on an interim basis starting on Aug. 24.

Harris served in the interim role in 2018 as well.

“During his tenure, Assistant Director Harrell led CISA’s soft target security efforts, helped launch SchoolSafety.gov, and enhanced agency’s collaboration with public and private sector partners,” the spokesperson said.

Harrell joined CISA in 2018 for a second stint. He worked at DHS in 2007 as a program manager. He also worked at the North American Electricity Corporation to lead the information sharing analysis center and as director of critical infrastructure programs.

In addition to his federal service, Harrell worked in the private sector before coming back to DHS. He was managing director for enterprise security at Duke Energy Corp. and chief security officer at Cutlass Security Group.

During his time at CISA, Harrell led the effort to help private sector companies deal with insider threats. CISA released an insider threat guidebook for industry in 2019 to help identify critical assets, technologies, data and people to protect.

Harrell also has been ensuring agencies have the right tools and guidance to reopen offices in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. CISA employs 119 protective security advisers that operate in every U.S. state and territory. In June, Harrell described them as senior-level career employees that take an on-the-ground look at security practices.

Cyberscoop first reported that Harrell is leaving CISA.