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Robert K. Knake

Whitney Shepardson Senior Fellow

Expertise

U.S. cybersecurity policy; Internet governance; homeland security.

Bio

Rob Knake is the Whitney Shepardson senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. His work focuses on Internet governance, public-private partnerships, and cyber conflict.

Knake served from 2011 to 2015 as director for cybersecurity policy at the National Security Council. In this role, he was responsible for the development of presidential policy on cybersecurity, and built and managed federal processes for cyber incident response and vulnerability management. Federal Computer Week dubbed him the “White House’s Cyber Wizard” for his work on Executive Order 13636, Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity, which directed the creation of the National Institute of Standards & Technology Cybersecurity Framework. He worked to establish presidential policy that created the Cyber Threat Intelligence Integration Center and Information Sharing and Analysis Organizations.

A frequent writer and speaker on cybersecurity, he has been quoted by the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post and appeared on MSNBC, CNN, and National Public Radio. He has testified before Congress on the problem of attribution in cyberspace and written and lectured extensively on cybersecurity policy.

Knake is an adjunct lecturer at Georgetown University's McCourt School of Public Policy and a senior advisor to the machine learning company Context Relevant. He holds a master’s in public policy from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government and undergraduate degrees in history and government from Connecticut College and is a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

All Publications

Article

How The Next U.S. President Can Contain China In Cyberspace

Authors: Robert K. Knake and Adam Segal
Journal of International Affairs

When transition planning gets underway in earnest this fall, one of the hardest memos to write will be the outbrief from the current National Security Council (NSC) team on what to do about China’s ongoing campaign of cyber espionage targeting the intellectual property of U.S. companies. While long a focus of both the president’s cyber and China teams, there is little chance that in the coming months the issue is going to be brought to any type of resolution. Instead, the next president will inherit a partially implemented plan that has produced positive results in the short term, but its long-term sustainability remains uncertain. He or she would be wise to follow the playbook left by the Obama administration, with a redoubled focus on the investigation and prosecution of cybercrime.

See more in United States; Cybersecurity; China

Article

Government's Role in Vulnerability Disclosure: Creating a Permanent and Accountable Vulnerability Equities Process

Authors: Ari Schwartz and Robert K. Knake
Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs John F. Kennedy School of Government Harvard University

In this June 2016 discussion paper, Knake and his coauthor examine the Obama administration’s Vulnerability Equities Process guidelines. They argue that the administration ought to formalize and publicize these guidelines and offer policy recommendations to improve the VEP while maintaining a bias toward public disclosure of zero day vulnerabilities.

See more in Global; Cybersecurity

Recent Activity from Net Politics

Press/Panels

Panel

The Common Good Forum

In this June 2015 panel, Knake discusses how the United States should approach worldwide threats in cyberspace. 

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Panel

DEFCON 18

In this October 2010 panel Knake discusses the role cyberspace and cyber cababilities will play in any future conflict. 

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