The White House could be setting itself up for a cyberattack according to an internal memo on cybersecurity, obtained by Axios, which warns that “the White House is posturing itself to be electronically compromised once again”.
The reason for this is the fact that at least a dozen top or high-level officials have either resigned or been pushed out of a cybersecurity mission established under President Obama with the aim of protecting the White House from Russian hacking and other cyber threats.
The former Office of the Chief Information Security Officer (OCISO) was folded into the Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO) back in July and officials from the now non-existent office have warned about new intelligence vulnerabilities.
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According to one White House official familiar with the matter, this consolidation could end up leading to a “Wild West” atmosphere in the White House where threats that were previously contained could end up doing a lot of damage.
Axios learned of the security concerns from an internal memo which was written by a senior White House cybersecurity director who left the cybersecurity mission created during Obama's presidency.
The memo's author, Dimitrios Vastakis who held the position of branch chief of White House computer network defense, wrote it with the intention to inform others of the current cybersecurity situation at the White House but it also served as his formal resignation letter.
In his former position, Vastakis worked in the OCISO which was created following a breach of White House computers by Russian hackers in 2014. OCISO itself was established to “take on the responsibility of securing the Presidential Information Technology Community (PITC) network” according to the internal memo.
President Trump's team has been trying to force out the career staff as well as the expert staff hired under Obama and the source who revealed this information said that the effects could leave the White House vulnerable to a “network compromise”.
While cleaning house may seem like the right move from President Trump's position, dealing with staff hired under the Obama administration would likely be much easier than dealing with the cyberattacks their departure could end up leading to.
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After working with the TechRadar Pro team for the last several years, Anthony is now the security and networking editor at Tom’s Guide where he covers everything from data breaches and ransomware gangs to the best way to cover your whole home or business with Wi-Fi. When not writing, you can find him tinkering with PCs and game consoles, managing cables and upgrading his smart home.