The U.S. government hasn’t “perfectly solved” how to transmit sensitive information efficiently without making it vulnerable to foreign hackers, President Obama said Sunday.
“I'm concerned about this throughout the government, generally. It just has a particular salience when you're talking about diplomatic cables and issues involving national security,” Obama said at a news conference in Madrid.
The president’s comments come just days after FBI Director James Comey, in his announcement that he would not be recommending charges against Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonClinton lawyer's indictment reveals 'bag of tricks' Attorney charged in Durham investigation pleads not guilty Attorney indicted on charge of lying to FBI as part of Durham investigation MORE for her use of a private email server, dinged the State Department as a whole for a lax security culture.
Obama declined to directly address the results of the FBI’s investigation into Clinton, but cited “legitimate concerns around how information travels in the State Department.”
“It has to do with the volumes of information that are now being transmitted, who has access to them; concerns about cyberattacks and cybersecurity; concerns about making sure that we're transmitting information in real time so that we can make good decisions, but that it's not being mishandled in the process or making us more vulnerable,” the president said, arguing that such concerns were applicable “across the spectrum” of government.
Government at large needs to “do better,” Obama said, noting that the White House itself has been the victim of hackers.
“Some of it will have to do with how we train personnel from the very top — how I use my smartphone or BlackBerry all the way down to the lowest-level staffer,” he said.
The State Department has pushed back against Comey’s assessment that its security culture isn’t up to snuff. In particular, the FBI head said, the State Department has trouble using unclassified email systems to discuss sensitive matters.
“We don't share that assessment of our institution,” State Department spokesman John Kirby told reporters in Washington last week.