Congress

Senate panel wants update on cyber EO

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Reports on international cybersecurity priorities were due from key agencies by June 23, under President Donald Trump's May executive order, and some in the Senate would like a look at the documents.

Sens. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs committee, are asking for reports from the Departments of Defense, Commerce, State, Homeland Security and the Treasury covering  international cybersecurity priorities, particularly their ability to detect and address potential threats.

The report is one of several required by Trump's cybersecurity executive order signed May 11. Agencies were also required to submit reports on their efforts to implement the National Institute of Standards and Technology cybersecurity framework by Aug. 9, and the Commerce Department has an early September deadline for information on cybersecurity workforce development.

Johnson and McCaskill are interested in a section of the executive order that required certain agencies to "submit reports to the President on their international cybersecurity priorities, including those concerning investigation, attribution, cyber threat information sharing, response, capacity building, and cooperation."

"We're in a new era where cyberattacks from our enemies could devastate our country in ways ranging from hacking government computers to access our nation's secrets to shutting down our electrical systems," McCaskill said in a statement.

"Cyberattacks are a real and growing threat," Johnson said. "Obtaining these reports will be helpful as the committee continues its oversight to improve America's national and cyber security."

In addition to the report on cybersecurity priorities, Johnson and McCaskill are seeking a second report due from the State Department intended to document "an engagement strategy for international cooperation in cyberspace."

That request comes as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson announced that the position of coordinator for cyber issues, a job formerly held by diplomat Chris Painter, would be eliminated and that 23 supporting positions and just under $5.5 million in funding would be moved to the Bureau of Economic Affairs. Painter led an effort to help establish norms for nation-states operating in cyberspace that would proscribe economic espionage and infrastructure attacks and build cooperation among countries when it comes to resiliency and recovery.

Johnson and McCaskill want the reports so the committee can better oversee the "effectiveness of present national security methods, staffing, and processes as tested against the requirements imposed by the rapidly mounting complexity of national security problems," according to the letters.

About the Author

Lauren C. Williams is a staff writer at FCW covering defense and cybersecurity.

Prior to joining FCW, Williams was the tech reporter for ThinkProgress, where she covered everything from internet culture to national security issues. In past positions, Williams covered health care, politics and crime for various publications, including The Seattle Times.

Williams graduated with a master's in journalism from the University of Maryland, College Park and a bachelor's in dietetics from the University of Delaware. She can be contacted at lwilliams@fcw.com, or follow her on Twitter @lalaurenista.

Click here for previous articles by Wiliams.


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