Senator seeks FEC ruling on campaign funds for personal cybersecurity
(Source: politico.com)

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(Original link: politico.com)

With help from Eric Geller and Martin Matishak FIRST IN MC: CAMPAIGN FUNDS FOR PERSONAL CYBER? — Sen. Ron Wyden today is asking the FEC to issue an opinion on whether members of Congress can use excess campaign funds to protect their personal devices and accounts against cyber threats. The question stems from FEC’s ruling last year that — seeing a spike in physical threats — determined campaign funds could be spent on home security.
“Some of the threats members face are physical, but many more are digital,” Wyden wrote in his letter . “The 2016 election season highlighted the dangers elected officials face in the cyber realm, including attacks by sophisticated state-sponsored hackers and intelligence agencies against personal devices and accounts.” Wyden cited a letter last month to his office from then-NSA Director Michael Rogers, who concurred with Wyden’s opinion that government officials’ personal devices “remain prime targets for exploration."
HAPPY WEDNESDAY Because we haven’t panicked about Skynet in a few weeks… n .
BOLTON NIXES CYBER ADVISER, SPARKS UPROAR — Lawmakers and cyber policy experts blasted the Trump administration Tuesday for eliminating the White House cybersecurity coordinator position. “It’s frankly mindboggling [sic] that the Trump Administration has eliminated the top White House official responsible for a whole-of-government cyber strategy, at a time when the cyber threat to our nation is greater than ever,” said Sen. Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, who had earlier warned Trump against the move. Wyden called the decision “beyond absurd” and said Trump’s “reckless foreign policy is only further inflating the danger to all Americans from foreign cyberthreats.” Rep. Jim Langevin, co-founder of the Congressional Cybersecurity Caucus, tweeted that the decision was “an enormous step backwards to deemphasize this growing challenge,” and co- introduced legislation to create a Senate-confirmed White House cybersecurity director. Sen. Angus King, who has pushed for clearer a cyber deterrence policy, told MC in a statement that the decision was “deeply concerning,” adding, “as of now, this appears to be a step backward at a moment when we should be sprinting forward to address our serious cyber vulnerabilities.”
National security adviser John Bolton’s team abolished the position in order to reduce bureaucracy inside the National Security Council, as Eric first reported. In a statement, an NSC spokesman said the NSC cyber team would be perfectly fine under the leadership of its two existing senior directors. “As they sit six feet apart from one another, they will be able to coordinate in real time,” spokesman Robert Palladino said. “Today’s actions continue an effort to empower National Security Council Senior Directors. Streamlining management will improve efficiency, reduce bureaucracy and increase accountability.” But one of those senior directors, Joshua Steinman, has stirred up controversy with his conduct. Rep. Bennie Thompson, the ranking member on the House Homeland Security Committee, told MC in a statement that “with cyber threats ever-changing and growing more sophisticated by the day, there is no logical reason to eliminate this senior position and reduce the already degraded level of cyber expertise at the White House.”
“Structure isn’t everything,” tweeted Christopher Painter, the State Department’s former top cyber diplomat, “but structure speaks to priority [and] ability to drive decisions [and] coordinate [often] disparate views. Every study, commission or other review suggested higher not lower placement” for the cyber coordinator. Former George W. Bush cyber adviser Richard Clarke, who held national security roles under four presidents of both parties, tweeted , “Many republicans who have never studied the cybersec problem think the market will solve things. It has not and it won’t. This is a case of market failure. It requires active government and smart policy. Bolton is a 19th century man.”
The tech community weighed in, too. Liz Hyman, the executive vice president of advocacy for the tech trade group CompTIA, said the decision cast a shadow over a new cyber strategy that DHS published Tuesday. “A cohesive and comprehensive cybersecurity strategy across all agencies within the federal government can only be accomplished when there is one office specifically tasked with coordination,” Hyman said in a statement. “We hope that the Administration re-considers its decision to eliminate the White House cybersecurity coordinator role.” The Trump administration “needs to continue to set an example for all levels of government and the private sector” with its policies, Hyman said. “Unfortunately, today’s announcement falls short of fulfilling that responsibility.”
AWAITING THE BOTNET REPORT — The Trump administration has not yet released a major report on countering the threat posed by botnets because DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen has yet to si...

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