Christopher Painter

Principal Visiting Fellow

Chris Painter is a globally recognized leader and expert on cybersecurity and cyber policy, Cyber Diplomacy and combatting cybercrime. He has been on the vanguard of U.S. and international cyber issues for over twenty five years—first as a prosecutor of some of the most high-profile cybercrime cases in the country and then as a senior official at the Department of Justice, FBI, the National Security Council and finally the State Department. He has initiated, helped drive, or advised on virtually every major U.S. 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.

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 and advised the Secretary and Deputy Secretary of State on these emerging issues.  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 of cyber issues ranging from national security to human rights matters. These issues include 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.

Among many other things, 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 conflict in cyberspace.

Prior to joining the State Department, Mr. Painter served in the White House as Senior Director for Cyber Policy and Acting Cyber Coordinator in the National Security Council. 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.

Mr. Painter has been a frequent media spokesperson and presenter on cyber issues around the globe.  He was named the Bartels World Affairs Fellow by Cornell University for 2017-2018 and chosen as a member of the Board of the Center for Internet Security.  He is the recipient of the prestigious RSA Award for Excellence in the Field of Public Policy (2016), the Attorney General’s Award for Exceptional Service, the Intelligence Community Legal Award (2008) and has been named to the “Federal 100” list, among other honors.  He is a graduate of Stanford Law School and Cornell University and clerked for US Circuit Judge Betty Fletcher. Currently Mr Painter serves as a Commissioner in the Global Commission on the Stability of Cyberspace.

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