Former spy chief says U.S. lacks cyber framework

Former NSA head Michael Hayden says that the U.S. still has not developed a coherent cyber framework and that serious challenges lie ahead for the incoming Trump administration.

Michael Hayden. Photo credit: Gage Skidmore.
 

Former spy chief Michael Hayden wants to see more activity on cybersecurity in the Trump transition.

As the Trump administration's transition team continues to announce its selections for key national security positions, one former intelligence chief said the U.S. still lacks a coherent cybersecurity framework and the Trump team lacks a clear expert on the subject.

The Trump team is moving behind the scenes on cybersecurity recruitment. FCW has learned that Karen Evans, National Director of the U.S. Cyber Challenge, is working with the Trump transition team on cybersecurity issues. Evans was administrator of E-Government and Information Technology at the Office of Management and Budget (a job now dubbed "federal CIO") under President George W. Bush. 

Speaking at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, retired Gen. Michael Hayden said the most powerful limiting factor in the cyber domain today is not technology but U.S. law and policy.

"What is it we want, and more importantly, what is it we will allow our government to do [in cyber]" are questions that the government has yet to answer, said Hayden, who has served as director of the National Security Agency and the CIA.

He said even the categories of offense, defense and espionage are still not clearly defined to the point that policymakers can agree on what authorities should be granted and at what level.

During a recent dinner with other cybersecurity thought leaders, Hayden said the discussion about what cyber is "resembled a bunch of Jesuits and a bunch of Dominicans trying to decide on the ample description of the Trinity."

That makes the challenge of coming up with international cyber norms all the more daunting, he added. Until the U.S. can settle on what it views as acceptable cyber behavior -- hacking a foreign political party is acceptable espionage, but hosting an aggressive botnet is not, for example -- then reaching agreement with other countries in areas such as privacy will be difficult.

Hayden had words of advice and caution for the incoming Trump administration. He said cyber was unfamiliar terrain for President-elect Donald Trump, and Hayden could not identify an expert on his team.

However, he said he was heartened by the choice of Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) for CIA director and described him as a "serious man who takes these questions seriously and studies these questions."

Hayden was more cautious in his reaction to the selection of retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn as national security adviser. Although Hayden praised Flynn's history of tactical success as an intelligence officer, he said the national security adviser job could be a stretch for Flynn. "This job is going to extend him," Hayden said. "It's going to demand that he up his game to be more broadly strategic than just tactical."

Like Trump, Flynn has been friendlier toward Russia and President Vladimir Putin than the rest of the Republican establishment, and Hayden expressed concern about Trump's views of Russia.

In particular, Hayden said it was off-putting that Trump has dismissed the assessments of the intelligence community regarding Russia's hacking of Democratic National Committee servers.

Although Hayden has argued that Russia's hacking of DNC email was "honorable espionage" of the sort that the U.S. routinely engages in, Russia's "weaponizing" of the stolen information violates accepted norms. Furthermore, it's unacceptable for Trump to disregard the intelligence community's findings because they conflict with Trump's larger narrative on Russia.

Hayden said he hopes that the fact-based "inductive guys" in the intelligence community will present a strong case to the incoming administration to help calibrate Trump's policy on Russia.

In addition, Hayden said he differed from the president-elect over the encryption debate. Trump has condemned Apple for refusing to unlock an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino, Calif., shooters and said he would mandate backdoors for law enforcement.

"There is clearly a legitimate need for law enforcement to get into that phone," Hayden said, "but I have serious doubt as to whether or not it trumps the broader national need for high-end unbreakable encryption."

That argument might not find favor with Pompeo. In a Jan. 2016 Wall Street Journal op-ed, Pompeo observed that, "the use of strong encryption in personal communications may itself be a red flag."

Speaking as the former head of two spy agencies, Hayden said the Trump administration will need to recognize that the encryption debate is difficult and there is no clear answer, but on balance, the U.S. is safer if there is strong encryption.

Hayden also said the incoming administration should take seriously the forthcoming report and recommendations by the President's Commission on Enhancing National Cybersecurity.

"I would really like the incoming administration...to pick up what these guys are saying and incorporate that...and make it part of their thinking," he said. 

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.