US President Donald Trump is leaving gaping holes in the cyber defence setup of the country by failing to appoint key personnel in many top security posts.
This is according to the White House’s own cybersecurity guidelines, according to experts.
No fewer than eight out of nine high-level roles remain unfilled. They are supposed to be political appointments, and are regarded as “agency-level chief information officer” jobs.
“These are critical roles,” says Paul Innella, president of cybersecurity consulting firm TDI, as quoted in ThinkProgress.org. “Who is guarding this?”
Among the roles yet to be filled are:
- federal CIO;
- federal chief information security officer; and
- White House CISO.
The government’s own Federal IT report says the duties of the roles are “broad and challenging”, and how the Donald responds to these challenges will determine the effectiveness of the government for years to come.
Recently-departed Federal CIO Tony Scott says: “We were at or about to enter a critical inflection point not only with IT, but with the Federal government as a whole.”
He adds that things are “going to be disruptive and painful, and filled with hard challenges along the way”.
Scott was appointed by former president Barack Obama in 2015, and had previously worked for companies including VMware, Microsoft and Disney.
What Trump is thinking in leaving eight out of nine cyber security posts vacant is anyone’s guess, but a contributor to Forbes noted Trump was vocal in his criticism of the Democratic Party’s outdated cyber security systems, which were allegedly exploited by Russian spies to infiltrate the US presidential elections.
Meanwhile, Trump’s cyber security adviser, Rudy Giuliani, has been presenting his ideas at the V4 Cybersecurity Conference.
As part of his presentation, Giuliani drew a pyramid with a circle around it and said something.
Trump, however, has said almost nothing about cyber security since coming to office, except to use terminology from the 1940s and 1950s through to the 1970s to accuse Obama of having tapped his wires at Trump Tower, the building in New York which served as his base for many years.
In what was probably his 10 billionth tweet, Trump said: “Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!”
Then, in yet another tweet, minutes later, Trump said: “I’d bet a good lawyer could make a great case out of the fact that President Obama was tapping my phones in October, just prior to Election!”
And in yet another tweet, exactly 10 minutes later, Trump said: “How long has President Obama gone to tapp my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon / Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!”