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 helped drive, initiated or been involved in 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 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 cyber issues ranging from national security to human rights matters anywhere in the world. Today more than 25 countries have created similar positions. In this role, Mr. Painter worked closely with the interagency, the White House, the private sector and civil society to implement U.S. international cyberspace policies and ensure that U.S. foreign policy positions on cross-cutting cyber issues were fully synchronized. 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. During his two years at the White House, Mr. Painter advised the President, the National Security Advisor, and the Homeland Security Advisor on cyber issues and ran numerous interagency processes to develop US cyber policy. 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 U.S. Attorney in Los Angeles where he led some of the most high 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 a 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 U.S. 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. Prior to joining the NSC, he served, for a short time, as Deputy Assistant Director of the F.B.I.'s Cyber Division focusing on a range of national security, cybercrime, international and industry 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. 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.