Camilo Sandoval takes over as Federal CISO

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It’s been rumored for more than a month that Camilo Sandoval was slated to be the next federal chief information security officer — but now it appears he’s officially been appointed by the Trump administration as one of its top cybersecurity officials.

Sandoval posted to the Federal CIO Council website’s blog late last week wrapping up National Cybersecurity Month and detailing the administration’s recent efforts to bolster cybersecurity. He is now listed as the Federal CISO on the council’s membership page, and his own LinkedIn suggests he joined the role in October. A source close to his hire confirmed he started last month.

The most recent Federal CISO, Grant Schneider, vacated the role in August when he took a job as senior director of cybersecurity services for Venable.

Rumors began to swirl in early September when sources close to the role claimed that Sandoval — the controversial former Trump campaign staffer and adviser who also served a stint as acting CIO of the Department of Veterans Affairs — was positioned as the likely next federal CISO.

“This year has brought cybersecurity to the forefront of everyone’s mind. As a community, we had to come together and found ourselves thrust into an environment facing challenges which not only affected our agencies, but our community as a whole,” says the post authored by Sandoval.

He goes on to tout the administration’s “substantial progress” around things like developing coordinated vulnerability disclosure policy, further adopting cloud and artificial intelligence, increasing focus on supply chain security and more.

Sandoval has been a rising star in the Trump administration since starting as the head of data operations for the president’s 2016 run for president. He then served as a White House adviser on the transition team embedded with the Treasury Department, where he reportedly clashed with career officials and was placed in the department’s basement, according to Politico.

His time at the VA was filled with reports of scandal, too. He was alleged to have spent time strongarming VA officials to pledge their allegiance to Trump and his political leadership. ProPublica described him in 2018 as one of the VA’s “shadow rulers,” taking orders from Trump associates based out of his Mar-a-Lago Club in Florida.

When members of Congress caught wind of Sandoval’s appointment as acting CIO at the VA, they sent a letter to department leadership expressing their alarm at the development and raising concerns over “serious character concerns that should disqualify Mr. Sandoval for this position.” The letter references that Sandoval is the subject of a lawsuit alleging he “slandered, harassed and sexually discriminated against” a fellow Trump campaign staffer. That lawsuit is ongoing, according to lawyers of the plaintiff.

The Office of Management and Budget made no official announcement on Sandoval’s hire.

Correction: Nov. 11, 2020. The story originally referred to the lawsuit against Sandoval as a closed matter. The lawsuit is still ongoing and hasn’t been resolved, according to the plaintiff’s lawyers.

-In this Story-

Camilo Sandoval, Congress, Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Donald Trump, Federal CIO Council, Federal CISO, Grant Schneider
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