Trump’s actions recently cost him a quarter of his Cybersecurity council. Resigning en masse, key members left the administration’s council citing multiple factors including Russia and Charlottesville. Leaving the NIAC, the group of resigned members may have damaged the chances to close security gaps where Trump is most reluctant to address: Russia.
Cybersecurity expert and CEO of Rubica Roderick Jones sat down with Inside Counsel to discuss the calamity of losing needed voices in the White House's National Infrastructure Advisory Council, which is responsible for overseeing the United States response to emerging cyber threats. Jones is a global security leader with over 15 years of experience operating at the highest levels of the international security environment. During his time as a member of Scotland Yard’s Special Branch, Roderick focused on international terrorism and the protection of a prominent British cabinet member.
“The leaders of all the White House Business Councils have had to make a calculation regarding how much reputational damage is sustained from working openly with this administration,” he explained. “Business leaders simply can’t afford the negative associations with the President following his hardline stance on Confederate symbolism and Immigration.”
The significant points from the loss of needed voices in the White House's National Infrastructure Advisory Council is that it underscores the Administrations inability to act on long-term threats to our National Security. The inability to maintain focus and talent on hard policy topics is a source of continuous concern, said Jones.
So, who will be responsible for overseeing the U.S. response to emerging cyber threats?
The U.S. has a variety of agencies responsible for overseeing cyber-threat response - this is both a blessing and a curse, according to Jones. The National Security Agency, Cyber Command the FBI and DHS all have a significant role to play in responding to cyber threats and this isn’t hampered by the resignation of members of the Infrastructure Advisory Council.
“I don’t think the resignation has damaged the chances to practically close security gaps,” he said. “As well as the reputational concerns associated with serving this administration the council members were also frustrated at seeing no attention being paid to core cyber infrastructure issues so these gaps are simply not being addressed and the resignation brings some attention to this.”
The chaotic nature of the administration makes it very difficult to focus on long-term infrastructure policy. There is a clear threat to the electoral infrastructure in the U.S. and this requires a high level of diplomacy between the Federal government and States governments to come to an agreement on providing the necessary security around this problem. According to Jones, it would seem unlikely but not impossible that the Trump Administration will appoint a diplomatic Homeland Security leader to fix this.
He said, “Restoring the security of the electoral system should be a fundamental element in any democracy, not doing so speaks to the priorities on the current U.S. leadership. Leaders that build walls haven’t been treated kindly by history. It seems like a peculiar thing to spend tax dollars on when so much of our digital infrastructure needs defending.”