Eric Welling has left his position as deputy assistant director of the FBI’s Cyber Division to join consulting giant Accenture, a company spokesperson confirmed.
After more than 20 years at the FBI, Welling will lead Accenture Security’s North America Incident Response Command Center. The center is part of a set of “cyber fusion centers” where Accenture provides threat analysis and other security services, a company spokesperson said. Accenture has built up its incident response capabilities, which help organizations recover from breaches, since acquiring FusionX in 2015.
“As critical as it is for our nation to build its cyber defenses it is equally as critical for our businesses, across the globe, to become cyber resilient,” Welling said in a statement. “It was a tremendous privilege to work alongside my colleagues at the FBI and I now look forward to working with Accenture Security and its clients to help secure their businesses from even the most advanced cyberattacks.”
Welling rose through the FBI ranks to play a prominent role in the agency’s cybersecurity efforts. When the Department of Justice announced hacking charges last year against seven officers from the Russian military intelligence organization known as the GRU for an alleged operation against sporting and anti-doping agencies, Welling condemned Russian behavior from the press podium.
“The GRU is breaking traditional international norms—and the law—in using cyber tools and resources in the fashion that they have,” Welling said then.
Prior to joining the FBI, Welling worked as a special agent in the U.S. Secret Service, focusing on cybercrime and other issues, according to his LinkedIn profile.
Welling is the latest cybersecurity official to leave the bureau for a private sector job. He joins Howard Marshall, who retired from the FBI last year to run Accenture’s threat intelligence operations. Last September, Trent Teyema stepped down as the FBI’s section chief of cyber readiness to become senior vice president at Parsons Corp.
The personnel changes have come as the FBI has sought to boost its efforts to combat state-sponsored and criminal hacking threats. The bureau’s 2020 fiscal budget asks for $70.5 million in additional funding for cybersecurity programs and for 33 more personnel dedicated to the issue.
“Make no mistake: It is a significant challenge and it exceeds the bandwidth that we have at the moment,” FBI Director Christopher Wray said of cyberthreats, in testimony before the House Appropriations subcommittee in April.
Asked about Welling’s departure, an FBI spokesperson said the bureau “does not comment on personnel matters below the executive level.”