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By Kate HenningsenAssociated PressIn the days after Donald Trump’s election, one of his first acts was to fire the acting head of the National Security Agency, James Clapper, as the agency’s director.
The fallout from that was swift.
The administration sought to repeal the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act, which gave the federal government the power to share cybersecurity information with companies, and it cut funding to the Information Technology Security and Privacy Commission, which oversees the security of technology and cybersecurity.
The Office of Personnel Management cut ties with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which advocates for government transparency.
The Department of Homeland Security ordered that federal employees use government email addresses for government business and that the public’s name and social security number be used only for purposes of employment.
And in a few cases, the president ordered agencies to cease and desist from sharing cyberthreat information with each other.
Those moves were meant to prevent potential cyberattacks, but the administration’s policies also led to new vulnerabilities in the country’s critical infrastructure.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency had been in crisis mode for more than a year by the time Trump took office, and when the agency lost power over some critical systems, it was left with few tools to prevent attacks, which it had previously been able to use to prevent hacks of the financial and medical sectors.
So the new administration needed to do something.
Trump had a simple solution: Put the U.S. on notice that the threat from Russia and China would be high.
“There is no way that the president can do this, because he doesn’t know anything about cyber,” said Bruce Schneier, a former NSA technical director who has become an advocate for cyber security.
“The administration has no idea how to handle this problem.
It’s not a problem that can be solved by the president.”
So Trump convened a summit of experts to devise a strategy to stop cyberattacks.
The goal was simple: Get the government to work with companies to better protect their networks.
The summit was an important step, Schneier said.
But it was a little more ambitious than the president had imagined.
Schneier had wanted a national cyber security conference, which would have focused on ways to keep the government up-to-date on cyberthreats, and he hoped to hold the event on March 20 in New York City.
Trump had been meeting with business leaders, but he did not want to attend.
Instead, the group chose to hold a two-day workshop in Washington, D.C., that lasted a week.
The aim of the workshop was to give the Trump administration a first-hand look at what cyberattacks looked like, and to give companies and the government a better understanding of the threats they face.
“The idea was that if the administration was going to spend time with us, it would show that the administration had a real understanding of this issue,” said Brian Krebs, the chief technology officer at CrowdStrike, which analyzed the Russian and Chinese attacks on the DNC and the White House.
The government, he said, was doing a good job of being prepared.
But it also created a new risk for the government, Krebs said.
The idea was to use the public meetings to give a sense of the threat, and then the White the Whitehouse would show off what it could do to reduce it.
“That was the plan,” Krebs added.
But Krebs says the White house and the agencies that work with it seemed to have lost track of what was actually happening on the ground.””
For months, the WhiteHouse seemed committed to a plan to prepare for a cyberattack, and the Trump team seemed to be taking steps to make that happen.
But Krebs says the White house and the agencies that work with it seemed to have lost track of what was actually happening on the ground.”
And they really were not in a position to know how to do that.””
It was kind of like, ‘Okay, this is the problem, we need to figure out how to solve it.’
And they really were not in a position to know how to do that.”
In the aftermath of the Russian hacking and the Chinese hacking, Trump was able to show a series of concrete steps he could take.
First, he signed an executive order on cybersecurity, which created a White House Cybersecurity Advisory Council and provided guidance to the president and his Cabinet.
Trump also called for an increase in the number of federal employees working with cybersecurity companies.
“This is something that we should all be doing together, and we should do it in a way that doesn’t just put the country at risk,” Trump said at the summit.
“We have to find a way to be more proactive.”
But that first order had its limitations.
For one, the federal agencies that worked with the companies that shared information with the government weren’t able to see the information they were sharing.
“So when the president says that he’s going to send a team out there to go out and get more data, that’s not the reality,”