Krebs: Infrastructure operators ‘need to be assembling their crisis management teams yesterday’

Greg Nash

Christopher Krebs, the nation’s former top cybersecurity official, said Thursday that critical infrastructure owners and operations should already be assembling their “crisis management teams” in advance of potential violence on Inauguration Day next week.

Krebs, who was fired from his position as director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) by President Trump in November, pointed to concerns over the storming of the Capitol last week and the recent bombing in Nashville, which took out an AT&T center, in expressing concerns around the targeting of critical infrastructure. 

“Look at Nashville, look what was accomplished there with the disruption of services, those are the sorts of things — that every systemically important infrastructure owner, operator, CEO needs to be assembling their crisis management teams yesterday,” Krebs said during an interview on CNN.

His comments come as authorities mobilize to address potential violence during or near President-elect Joe Biden being sworn into office on Wednesday, with more than 20,000 National Guard troops activated and sent to Washington, D.C. 

CISA bills itself as “the nation’s risk advisor,” and oversees the protection of critical infrastructure against both cyber and physical threats. 

It also is the primary agency responsible for coordinating election security with state and local election officials, and it put out a joint statement with other officials following the 2020 elections calling them the “most secure in American history.” Krebs was fired by Trump over Twitter after the statement was released. 

Krebs also helped to spearhead the creation of a “rumor control” webpage at CISA to push back against election disinformation and misinformation.

He said Thursday that despite the website and other efforts to combat rumors around election integrity, CISA had difficulty convincing many Americans that the election was secure.

“It was incredibly difficult for me and my team to get facts out there into the mainstream because there is a part of the nation that just doesn’t want to hear it, they want to believe that what resonates with their political view and the lens that they view the world through, and then when it’s magnified by the president, there is not a whole lot you can do,” Krebs said.

His comments came the day after the House voted to impeach Trump for a second time, alleging the president incited rioters to storm the Capitol last week. Krebs applauded the move, noting it was necessary for both Americans and foreign nations to see the U.S. prioritize “accountability.”

“You don’t get a mulligan on insurrection, you don’t get a one-time pass, we have to be forceful and communicate to the world that this is unacceptable and that there will be consequences,” he said.

Since being forced to leave CISA, where he served as the agency’s first director, Krebs has been vocal on the integrity of the recent election, testifying to a Senate committee in December that “while elections are sometimes messy, this was a secure election, of that I have no doubt.”

Krebs has also joined with Alex Stamos, the former chief security officer at Facebook, to create the Krebs-Stamos Group, a new consultancy organization that addresses cybersecurity issues. 

Embattled IT group SolarWinds announced last week that it had engaged the firm to respond to a Russian cyberattack that compromised much of the federal government and the majority of U.S. Fortune 500 companies. 

The former CISA director will also chair the Aspen Institute’s Commission on Information Disorder, which will help to address real-world consequences of online disinformation.

Tags AT&T Capitol breach Capitol Riots Christopher Krebs CISA CNN Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Disinformation Donald Trump Donald Trump Impeachment Election Security Facebook Impeachment Joe Biden SolarWinds Twitter

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