President Trump Signs Cyber Security Executive Order

President Trump Signs Cyber Security Executive Order

President Donald Trump signed a long-awaited executive order on Thursday (11 May) to modernise and improve the nation's cybersecurity and safeguard critical infrastructure from cyberattacks.

In a press briefing, White House homeland security advisor Tom Bossert said that the order built on recommendations made by the Obama administration and downplayed Russia's role as a cybersecurity adversary.

Too much time and money have been spent protecting old federal IT systems, some of which store US citizens' data, he said.

Trump's order follows months of hacking accusations: the US intelligence community accused Russian Federation of orchestrating a campaign of cyberattacks; and Democratic political organizations and high profile officials in Hillary Clinton's campaign suffered embarrassing revelations on WikiLeaks. Agencies are expected to submit reports on their risks within 90 days.

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The World Wide Web: "As a highly connected nation, the United States is especially dependent on a globally secure and resilient internet", the order notes, and we can't keep it that way alone.

The order is similar to a draft circulated weeks ago, but delayed to allow the White House time to put together a budget wish list for next year and to announce the formation of the American Technology Council (ATC), a group of agency heads and federal executives whose mission is to "coordinate the vision, strategy and direction" of IT across government and provide advice regarding its use. Bossert said an open Internet and collaboration is key "to finding what is and is not acceptable". Eric Geller reporting in Politico writes: "The directive is Trump's first major action on cyber policy and sets the stage for the administration's efforts to secure porous federal networks that have been repeatedly infiltrated". "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".

It also directs the director of national intelligence to review the workforce development efforts of potential foreign cyber peers in order to help identify foreign workforce development practices likely to affect long-term United States cybersecurity competitiveness.

"What I find disheartening is that cybersecurity is continuing to be treated as an area where we need to perpetually "catch-up" and as a separate focus from the overall efforts to modernize and facilitate the evolution of government", said Kevin Magee, a global security strategist at Gigamon. "DHS has always been a leader in protecting our nation against cyber threats and this executive order reaffirms our central role in ongoing cybersecurity efforts".

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"President Trump's executive order marks a dramatic cultural shift in way the federal government is looking at cybersecurity, so this is a massive undertaking for the agency heads now held accountable for the security of their organizations", said Mike Shultz, CEO of Cybernance. An early draft of the order, published by The Washington Post, included a provision directing the US secretaries of the departments of Defense and Homeland Security to review the country's cybersecurity education efforts and make recommendations for improvement.

The order was to be signed in late January, before it was postponed.

With any luck, this executive order will at least lay out a responsibility and schedule for drawing up a cybersecurity plan, in the strongest government tradition: issue an order to specify who should make the plan, which will then outline what should be done and who should do it.

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.

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