Cybersecurity memo warns White House is ‘posturing itself to be electronically compromised’
An internal cybersecurity memo made public this week warns that the “White House is posturing itself to be electronically compromised once again.”
The Oct. 17 memo, obtained by Axios, was written by senior White House cybersecurity director Dimitrios Vastakis, who oversaw its computer network defense.
In the memo, Vastakis writes that the decision in July to fold the Office of the Chief Information Security Officer (OCISO) into the Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO) was “alarming.”
“This is a significant shift in the proprieties of senior leadership where business operations and quality of service take precedence over securing the President’s network,” the memo reads. “As a career cyber security professional, this is alarming.”
The memo also comes after at least a dozen officials have either resigned from or been pushed out of an Obama-era cybersecurity mission, which was established in 2014 after Russia hacked into some White House computers. The mission aimed to shield the White House from similar foreign threats, Axios reported.
“Measuring the success of your security staff by the frequency major compromises are identified versus the duration of time since the last compromise is absurd,” Vastakis wrote. “Allowing for a large portion of institutional knowledge to concurrently walk right out the front door seems contrary to the best interests of the mission and the organization as a whole.”
He added, “They say that history repeats itself. Unfortunately, given all of the changes I’ve seen in the past three months, I foresee the White House is posturing itself to be electronically compromised once again.”
Vastakis also used the letter to announce his resignation, citing new leadership’s “staple tactic” of “habitually being hostile to incumbent OCISO staff” as the “very reason” he is leaving.
The memo comes after Russia and Iran have already attempted to interfere in the 2020 elections.