Washington, D.C., has named longtime contractor Suneel Cherukuri as its new chief information security officer, resolving a staffing decision that has been a need throughout most of 2018.
Washington, D.C., looked within to find its new IT security leader in a longtime partner, the government’s Office of the Chief Technology Officer (OCTO) announced on Nov. 14.
Suneel Cherukuri, a contractor with the agency for nearly a decade and a former engineer there, was named Chief Information Security Officer for the District of Columbia, OCTO said in a news release, affirming the announcement this week by Interim Chief Technology Officer Barney Krucoff. Cherukuri, whose first day on the job was Nov. 13, is replacing former CISO John MacMichael who left OCTO in February to join Gartner as a research leadership partner.
“OCTO, since our inception 15-plus years ago, we’ve always had a mixture of contractors and government employees. Just because technology moves so fast and we have to try to keep up with it,” OCTO Communications Director Michael Rupert told Government Technology.
Cherukuri, who has 20 years experience in “large enterprise network environments” according to LinkedIn, has specialized in cybersecurity architecture, design, engineering and operations. He's currently listed as a cybersecurity architect at OCTO, on LinkedIn.
Prior to joining OCTO, he was a cybersecurity architect at Networking For Future (NFF), a D.C. IT firm, for more than four years. Before NFF, he worked at ANZ, one of Melbourne, Australia’s largest banks, as a senior technical analyst for about 26 months. But beyond his time in various environments, his previous work at D.C. helped make him a contender, OCTO’s communications director said. Cherukuri also served as senior network security engineer at D.C. from 2006 to 2010.
“D.C., because of its state and local functions, is a very unique IT network. We also have an extremely large municipal digital network that connects hundreds of government buildings and schools. It’s a big responsibility, and having someone with that degree of familiarity with our system, being able to walk in on Day 1 and not having a huge ramp-up time, is a positive,” Rupert said.
In D.C. government, Cherukuri will oversee cybersecurity and coordinate protection of information resources from internal and external threats while administering overall security. He’ll also oversee OCTO’s security architecture and engineering division, which handles tools and tech to protect D.C. assets and resources; its Security Operation Center, which watches the District’s cybersecurity posture around the clock, enterpris-wide and leads incident response; and its governance risk and compliance division, which spearheads development and oversight of IT policy, procedures and standards.
In a statement, Krucoff called Cherukuri’s on-boarding a “well-deserved promotion.”
“Suneel provided critical expertise as OCTO focused on expanding and strengthening our cybersecurity efforts over the past decade,” Krucoff said.
The new CISO called his promotion “a true honor and a great responsibility,” also in a statement.
“Cybersecurity is one of the biggest challenges that is faced in today’s world of digital governance. We can never be 100 percent protected from all the cyberthreats, the key is to be better prepared by investing wisely in technology and people and focus on reducing overall risk factors,” Cherukuri said.