Christopher Painter

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Chris Painter is a globally recognized leader and expert on cyber policy, Cyber Diplomacy and combatting cybercrime.  He has been on the vanguard of US and international cyber issues for over twenty-five years—first as a leading federal prosecutor of some of the most high-profile cybercrime cases in the country, then as a senior official at the Department of Justice, the FBI, the National Security Council and finally at the State Department as the world’s first top cyber diplomat.  He has helped drive, initiated or been involved in most every major US cyber policy for over a decade and has created innovative new organizations and approaches to deal with threats and take advantage of opportunities in cyberspace.  He was named the Bartels World Affairs Fellow for 2017-18 by Cornell University, awarded the Order of the Rising Sun in 2018 by the Government of Japan for promoting Japan-US Cyber collaboration, and awarded the Order of Terra Mariana in 2020 by the President of Estonia.  Among other things, he currently serves as President of the Global Forum on Cyber Expertise Foundation, on the Board of the Center for Internet Security and on a Public Sector Advisory Committee for Palo Alto Networks.  He is also an Associate Fellow with Chatham House and is a Commissioner on the Global Commission for the Stability of Cyberspace.

In his most recent government role as the nation’s top cyber diplomat, Mr. Painter coordinated and led the United States’ diplomatic efforts to advance an open, interoperable, secure and reliable Internet and information infrastructure.  The pioneering office that Mr. Painter established — the Office of the Coordinator for Cyber Issues — was the first high-level position and office dedicated to advancing the diplomatic aspects cyber issues ranging from national security to human rights matters anywhere in the world.   His efforts helped create a new area of foreign policy focus that included promoting norms of responsible state behavior and cyber stability, preventing cyber conflict, enhancing deterrence, advancing cybersecurity, fighting cybercrime, promoting multi-stakeholder Internet governance and advancing Internet freedom.  Mr. Painter was instrumental in negotiating a landmark agreement regarding the theft of intellectual property with China, negotiating a comprehensive cyber cooperation agreement with India, using diplomatic and other tools to combat high-profile cyber-attacks and intrusions, and launching first of their kind “whole of government” cyber dialogues and capacity building programs with dozens of countries in Europe, Asia, the Americas, the Middle East and Africa.  He and his team also spearheaded the promotion of an international framework of cyber stability that includes building a consensus around norms of acceptable behavior and getting agreement on transparency and confidence-building measures designed to reduce the risk of miscalculation that could inadvertently lead to cyber warfare.

From 2009-2011, Mr. Painter served in the White House as the first Senior Director for Cyber Policy and Acting Cyber Coordinator in the National Security Council, where he   advised the President, the National Security Advisor, and the Homeland Security Advisor on a wide range of cyber issues. He was a senior member of the team that conducted the President's Cyberspace Policy Review in 2009 and he subsequently helped create and then structure a new directorate in the National Security Council devoted to these issues.  He also proposed and then coordinated the development of the President’s 2011 International Strategy for Cyberspace — the first such strategy by any country.

Mr. Painter began his federal career as an Assistant US Attorney in Los Angeles where he led some of the highest profile and significant cybercrime prosecutions in the country, including the prosecution of notorious computer hacker Kevin Mitnick, the first two Internet stock manipulation cases in the country, and one of the first high profile distributed denial of service case that knocked many prominent Internet companies off-line.  He subsequently helped lead the case and policy efforts of the Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section in the US Department of Justice where he supervised national security and cybercrime matters, developed international networks to advance the fight against cybercrime and chaired the cutting edge G8 High Tech Crime Subgroup from 2002-2012.   He also served, for a short time, as Deputy Assistant Director of the FBI’s Cyber Division focusing on a range of national security, cybercrime, international and industry issues.  Prior to joining the US government, Mr. Painter was an attorney at the law firm of Arnold and Porter where he specialized in securities litigation, communications law, international trade and pro bono matters.

Mr. Painter has been a frequent media spokesperson and presenter on cyber issues around the globe, testified on numerous occasions before Congress and published articles on deterrence, diplomacy and other cyber issues.  He is also the recipient of the RSA Award for Excellence in the Field of Public Policy (2016), the CES Government Technology Leadership Award (2018), the Attorney General’s Award for Exceptional Service, the Intelligence Community Legal Award and has been named to the “Federal 100” list, among other honors.  He is a Distinguished Non-resident Fellow at the Australian Security Policy Institute and was a Principle Visiting Fellow at the Hague Center for Strategic Studies.  He is a graduate of Stanford Law School and Cornell University and clerked for US 9th Circuit Judge Betty Fletcher.

In The News

Ransomware locks up digital data until a fee is paid to the hackers.

Can Biden Do Anything to Stop Ransomware Attacks?

Christopher Painter explains why the emerging pattern of ransomware attacks needs to be addressed at a political level – both domestically and internationally – and not be treated solely as a criminal issue.
cover link Can Biden Do Anything to Stop Ransomware Attacks?