The National Retail Federation has hired Christian Beckner as senior director of retail technology to head up the trade association’s cybersecurity program which helps retailers protect sensitive consumer data nationwide.

Beckner is a cybersecurity think tank expert and former U.S. Senate homeland security adviser.

“Protecting consumer data is one of retailers’ top priorities, and Christian is a proven cybersecurity veteran with the expertise and experience to help us combat this neverending battle,” said NRF president and chief executive officer Matthew Shay.

Beckner will lead NRF’s CIO Council, IT Security Council and cybersecurity program. Included in the cybersecurity program is the NRF Retail Information Sharing and Analysis Organization and Threat Alert System, which gathers intelligence on cybersecurity threats targeting retailers and alerts companies to help them keep data secure.

Beckner said the retail industry has a unique set of technology and security challenges. “Retailers work round-the-clock every day against cyber threats, and I want to use what I’ve learned over the last two decades to help them address these critical issues head-on,” Beckner said.

Beckner spent the past five years as deputy director of George Washington University’s Center for Cyber and Homeland Security, a think tank where he focused on cybersecurity, counterterrorism and homeland security. Earlier, he was an associate staff director at the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, where he was responsible for coordination of oversight and legislation on a broad range of homeland security and intelligence issues. Among other assignments, he contributed to the committee’s investigation of the 2009 Fort Hood terrorist attack. He has worked on cybersecurity and homeland security issues for close to 20 years, including positions at IBM, the Center for Strategic and International Studies and The O’Gara Group.

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