Justice Department to undertake 120 day review of cybersecurity challenges

Deputy Attorney General nominee Lisa Monaco
Greg Nash

The Justice Department will soon begin a 120 day review of cybersecurity challenges in the midst of escalating cyber threats. 

Newly confirmed Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco announced the review during virtual remarks at the Munich Cyber Security Conference, stressing that the U.S. was at a “pivot point” around how it approaches cybersecurity concerns. 

“We are launching this week, under my direction, a review of how the department is looking at exactly this set of challenges,” Monaco said. “We want to bring forth actionable recommendations in a 120 day time frame … on what can we be doing better, working with our partners across borders, to address these threats.”

The review will focus on cybersecurity issues including digital currency, supply chain attacks such as the SolarWinds incident, which compromised nine federal agencies last year, and the ways countries such as China and Russia use cyber operations against other nations. 

“There is a great deal to do, and we are launching this review to make sure we are bringing all the tools we can to address it,” Monaco noted. 

A spokesperson for the Justice Department declined to give any further details on the review, but told The Hill that “we will have more to share in the coming days.”

The announcement of the review comes a week after the Justice Department convened a Ransomware and Digital Extortion Task Force to tackle the huge spike in ransomware attacks against critical organizations such as schools and hospitals over the past year. 

Additionally, a Texas court authorized the FBI earlier this month to remove malware stemming from the exploitation of vulnerabilities in Microsoft’s Exchange Server, which Microsoft said in early March were used by at least one Chinese state-sponsored hacking group to potentially compromise thousands of organizations. 

Monaco noted Friday that the increased ransomware attacks were another reason the new review was being launched, and the need to get ahead of nation states and cyber criminals planning the next attack in cyberspace. 

“We are working every day with our partners to disrupt, to deter, and to hold accountable malicious cyber actors,” Monaco said. “We have got to move at the same speed that our adversaries are.”

Monaco previously served as national security adviser to former President Obama, during which time she spearheaded the daily briefing given to Obama on threats facing the nation. 

Monaco said Friday that during her four years in the position, she spent “more and more time” briefing Obama on cyber threats. 

“You don’t need a presidential briefing every morning to understand that the cyber threat has exploded,” she noted.

Tags Barack Obama cybersecurity DOJ Lisa Monaco Ransomware

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