President Trump Signs Cyber Security Executive Order

by Johanna Valdez May 12, 2017, 12:14
President Trump Signs Cyber Security Executive Order

President Donald Trump has finally signed a long-awaited executive order on cybersecurity, and he called for the us government to move more into the cloud and modernize its IT infrastructure.

As U.S. government officials and networks have been hacked in recent years, Trump's homeland security adviser Tom Bossert said the order is created to fulfill the president's pledge to "keep America safe, including in cyberspace".

Too much time and money have been spent protecting old federal IT systems, some of which store USA citizens' data, he said. These hacks, and the mass email dumps that followed were deemed to be part of what the USA intelligence community identified as Russian-backed backed efforts to interfere with the election process in favor of Trump.

Drafts of the order have been widely circulated for months, but the version Trump signed Thursday includes a major and unexpected initiative: moving as much of the government's cyberdefense system to "the cloud" as possible.

"Civil society organizations in the United States have fought hard against the militarization of the domestic internet", said Amie Stepanovich, U.S. Policy Manager and Global Policy Counsel at Access Now.

The order instructs many federal agency heads - including the secretary of commerce, the Department of Defense and the attorney general - to review the state of their departments' cybersecurity capabilities and vulnerabilities.

A report on cybersecurity concerns regarding critical infrastructure is due within six months. "The Russians, the Chinese, the Iranians, other nation-states are motivated to use cybersecurity and cyber tools to attack our people and our governments and their data".

Calling the executive order "mostly a plan for the government to make a plan", the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), a non-partisan research and educational group, criticized the lack of progress made by the government in pursuing security. The Secretary of Homeland Security and the OMB must then submit a report to the President with the agencies' risk determination and its own plan for addressing the cybersecurity of the executive branch.

Attending the White House press briefing, Bossert said that the directive would seek to put in place strategies to combat threats and to both modernise as well as centralize federal systems.

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It follows a presidential campaign dominated by running storylines related to cyber security, including the hacking and subsequent leaking of Democratic emails as part of what US intelligence agencies determined was a wide-ranging operation meant to help Trump win the White House and denigrate his challenger, Democrat Hillary Clinton.

President Trump at the White House on May 10. "We have practiced one thing and preached another".

When asked if it's the Russian hack that led to this order, Bossert said, "It wasn't a Russia-motivated issue".

The order "is a step forward", said Ari Schwartz, a former White House and Commerce Department cyber policy official who worked on the Commerce guidelines.

The order also emphasizes the need for increased government support to the nation's critical infrastructure entities to help them guard against cyberattacks.

Some of the action items are ambitious: Agency heads have 90 days to provide the secretary of Homeland Security and the director of the Office of Management and Budget with risk management reports.

There has been high anticipation for the executive order since the White House cancelled its planned signing in late January.

One on the cyber capabilities of the Defense Department, the Homeland Security Department and the National Security Agency.


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