2020 Shows the Danger of a Decapitated Cyber Regime
When it comes to cybersecurity policy, the Trump administration’s head and body have rarely seemed to agree. Take the past two months, for instance. In late October, the president made an absurd declaration at a campaign rally that “nobody gets hacked.” That same week, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Administration (CISA), Justice Department, and Treasury Department all took separate, landmark steps to counter Russian hacking—unsealing an indictment against six hackers in Russia’s GRU military intelligence agency, imposing new sanctions on the Moscow research institute responsible for a uniquely dangerous piece of malware, and warning of an ongoing hacking campaign believed to be carried out by the FSB.
A few weeks later, Donald Trump lost the election and laid the blame on false conspiracy theories about electoral hacking and fraud. When CISA released a statement lauding the election as the “most secure in American history,” contradicting the president’s claims, Trump summarily fired CISA director Chris Krebs. This year was finally capped off by revelations of a disastrous hacking campaign that hijacked the software updates of IT management firm SolarWinds to breach a slew of federal agencies and tech firms. Now, even as attorney general William Barr and secretary of state Mike Pompeo have pointed to Russia as the culprit, Trump has responded by downplaying the crisis, suggesting intrusions might have been carried out by China instead.