Overnight Cybersecurity

Overnight Cybersecurity: Trump launches tech advisory council | Lawmakers offer IT modernization bill | Spending deal boosts DHS cyber funds

Welcome to OVERNIGHT CYBERSECURITY, your daily rundown of the biggest news in the world of hacking and data privacy. We’re here to connect the dots as leaders in government, policy and industry try to counter the rise in cyber threats. What lies ahead for Congress, the administration and the latest company under siege? Whether you’re a consumer, a techie or a D.C. lifer, we’re here to give you …


–TRUMP LAUNCHES AMERICAN TECH COUNCIL: President Trump signed an executive order on Monday creating a new technology council to help advise the government on streamlining its IT operations. A White House official told The Hill that the American Technology Council (ATC) will be run by Chris Liddell, an assistant to the president and former CFO of Microsoft. The council will meet with Silicon Valley leaders sometime in June to discuss ideas on modernizing government operations, the official added. The council is part of Trump senior adviser Jared Kushner’s White House Office of Innovation, which was established in March to try to streamline government operations. The council has a number of members, including the president himself and several department heads, such as the secretaries of Commerce, Defense, and Homeland Security. The executive order establishing the council includes a specific section about cybersecurity, calling on the Director of National Intelligence — who is also a member — to “provide access to classified information on cybersecurity threats, vulnerabilities, and mitigation procedures to the ATC in order to facilitate the ATC’s activities” consistent with protecting sources and methods.

To read the rest of our piece, click here.

{mosads}–EXPECTATIONS BUILD FOR TRUMP CYBER ORDER: Anticipation is building for President Trump’s long-awaited executive order on cybersecurity. Trump was first expected to sign the executive order in January, but it was abruptly delayed without explanation. The cybersecurity industry and members of Congress have been watching closely for signs of progress on the executive order in the three months since it was tabled. Lawmakers are eager to see the contents of the order so they can move forward on an agenda for cybersecurity in the new Congress that is aligned with the priorities of the administration. The White House has been soliciting input from the private sector on the executive order. Subsequent draft iterations have circulated showing alterations that some say reflect progress from the first draft order leaked in January. Steve Grobman, senior vice president and chief technology officer for McAfee, said that he has been encouraged by what he has seen in drafts, but noted that the delay has kept agencies from moving forward on a new cybersecurity agenda. “It seems like we’re now tweaking minor details,” Grobman said. “Every week that we delay the executive order from being enacted is pushing those timelines out.” Rumors swirled last week that the order could be signed on Friday, but hopes for that fizzled.

To read the rest of our piece, click here.

–BUDGET DEAL FUNDS DHS CYBER EFFORTS: The bipartisan spending deal hammered out by congressional negotiators boosts funding for an office at the Department of Homeland Security charged with securing U.S. infrastructure from cyber threats. The legislation, released on Monday, allots $1.8 billion to the National Protection and Programs Directorate at the DHS, a $183 million increase over fiscal 2016 levels. A large portion of the funding is specifically designated for the DHS’s cybersecurity efforts. The organization would get $1.4 billion to secure civilian government networks, detect and stop cyberattacks and foreign espionage activities, and modernize and bolster emergency communication networks. Congress must pass the legislation, which would fund government through September, by Friday to avoid shutdown.  

To read the rest of our piece, click here.

A POLICY UPDATE: LAWMAKERS LAUNCH DIGITAL TRADE CAUCUS: Reps. Erik Paulsen (R-Minn.) and Suzan DelBene (D-Wash.) launched the Digital Trade Caucus Monday, which aims to protect cross-border digital trade from government protectionism.

“Trade has gone digital and protectionist policies don’t work in an internet-age,” DelBene said in a statement. “We need continued American leadership in the digital economy and for that to happen our laws need to be up to date with the way the world works.”

Internationally, many nations have implemented national security platforms that are functionally similar to protectionist trade practices. In China and other countries, cloud service providers are required to have local servers containing all data on citizens, to be used for surveillance measures. So-called data localization keeps files within their jurisdictions and forces companies to maintain files they might otherwise delete.

To read the rest of our piece, click here.

A LIGHTER CLICK: Wired explains why the “Orange is the New Black” ransom hack failed.

A RECOMMENDATION IN FOCUS: A group of experts at the conservative Heritage Foundation argue in a new paper out Monday that President Trump and India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi should commit to deepening cooperation on cyber issues. The paper draws on a research study commissioned by Heritage and the New Delhi-based Observer Research Foundation.

“Malicious cyber activity from other states and non-state actors shows no sign of abating anytime soon. Both the U.S. and India have been working on behavioral norms in cyber space–an effort that should be sustained. Bad actors, however, do not respect norms,” the experts write.

“The U.S. and India need to take more proactive measures to keep cyberspace free, safe, and prosperous. Further, they can take additional steps together to set the standards for global cyber behavior, benefiting both countries and advancing the cause of regional stability.”

To read the full paper, click here.


IT MODERNIZATION: A bipartisan group of lawmakers has reintroduced a bill aimed at modernizing federal information technology, returning focus to an issue Congress attempted to tackle last year.

The Modernizing Government Technology (MGT) Act provides two funding channels for the purchase of new IT equipment that would be cheaper to run and more secure.

The legislation allows agencies to borrow money from a general modernization fund that is repaid with the savings from new equipment. It also allows agencies to keep any money saved by funding new technology within current budgets.

The bill passed the House in the waning days of the previous Congress last year, but not the Senate after it hit an unexpected snag with the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).

The bill now quickly heads to a markup before the full House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on Tuesday morning. Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas), one of the bill’s cosponsors, is also slated to speak at the Adobe Digital Government Symposium on Tuesday, where he could address the subject of IT modernization.

To read the rest of our piece, click here.


Links from our blog, The Hill, and around the Web.

Facebook taps former New York Times exec to lead news product team. (The Hill)

Internet’s biggest players duck net neutrality fight. (The Hill)

New chief selected for Justice Department unit overseeing Russia probe. (The Hill)

Estonia is at the forefront of NATO’s cyber defense efforts. (Wall Street Journal)

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) presses FBI Director James Comey on the bureau’s connection to the author of the infamous Trump dossier. (Grassley)

The executive director of the FIDO Alliance makes the case for putting multi-factor authentication in the cybersecurity framework developed by NIST. (Cyberscoop)

A deep dive on how ex-national security adviser Michael Flynn got a security clearance. (Newsweek)

NSA stops collecting Americans’ emails and texts with foreigners that mention identifying terms of foreign targets. (New York Times)

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