Written by By Staff Writer
The White House has issued new “red line” policies designed to shield Americans from “the most devastating cyberattacks.”
The policy requires federal agencies to assess every major cyberattack that happens in the U.S. within 24 hours.
Any violation of these rules would risk taking the classification of the agency involved from “critical” to “significant,” a move that would require approval by the highest levels of the government.
The policy also gives the National Security Council, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and Secretary of Defense James Mattis power to issue new rules or “discretionary thresholds” for cyberthreats, allowing a faster response to deal with potential nuclear, chemical or biological attacks.
Trump administration’s first broad cyberattack memo released
The procedures have been in the works for more than a year, but they were finalized by the administration following the White House Conference on Cybersecurity last week.
Trump signed a directive to issue the first broad cyberattack memo on January 17, setting up a stark contrast with his predecessor, who often ignored warnings of the dangers posed by Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
The new policy suggests that Trump is willing to use presidential authority to rein in the highest levels of the U.S. government. A former intelligence official who has dealt with classified cyberissues with the White House agreed.
“What they’re doing seems like it’s somewhere between cautious and aggressive,” he said. “However, if the FBI or Department of Justice have advice that they should say go slow because there are some threats out there and think about them, let them.”
Trump has said he has no plans to increase the country’s nuclear arsenal, although a document leaked to The Washington Post last week contained a plan to triple the number of US nuclear weapons in a three-year span.
Though the policy has been in the works for about a year, the administration did not release it until the weekend following the conference.
The instructions are likely to take on urgency following the recent data breach at the Office of Personnel Management. As the director of national intelligence, Trump is responsible for protecting the country’s computer networks and overseas networks that share classified information.
In the past, Trump has been critical of investigations into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and probes into Russian interference in the ongoing midterm elections.
At a press conference in December, the President said “you can’t have political witch hunts.”
“There is no collusion,” he said, pointing out the pro-Russian ties of members of President Barack Obama’s administration.
Later on, when asked to describe in detail the President’s relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Trump said, “It’s a little bit between our two countries, frankly. It’s a little bit between Russia and the United States. It’s a little bit between President Putin and President Trump.”
The language is likely to stir up further controversy, because it could be construed as condoning Russian interference in American elections. The Kremlin has denied any involvement.