In light of increased cyberattacks, White House sets defence plan with FBI in charge

President Obama has clarified how the government will respond to major attacks

Faced with increasingly troubling attacks on its cyber infrastructure, the United States has outlined new measures intended to help it respond more effectively to attacks that might compromise public safety or its national security interests.

On Tuesday, President Obama approved a directive that lays out how federal agencies will respond to “significant cyber incidents," with the FBI to be formally in charge of investigating.

Although the President has made cybersecurity a priority, the U.S. continues to confront attacks targeting the private sector and the federal government, the White House said.

Some of these include “significant cyber incidents” which the President defines as attacks that will likely harm the U.S.’s national security, economy, civil liberties or public confidence.

“Cyber incidents are a fact of contemporary life,” he wrote. “And significant cyber incidents are occurring with increasing frequency.”

As part of his directive, the President is ordering the FBI to take the lead in investigating and dealing with perpetrators of major cyber attacks.

The Department of Homeland Security, meanwhile, will be in charge of lessening the damage and patching any vulnerabilities from the attack.

Both the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security already investigate many major cyber crimes, but Tuesday’s directive better clarifies their roles.

Obama approved the directive weeks after hackers stole confidential documents from the Democratic National Committee. Those documents have now leaked to the public and could influence the outcome of the U.S. presidential election.

Although private security firms suspect that Russian state-sponsored hackers are behind the intrusion, the FBI is still investigating the matter and the President is waiting for the results.

Tuesday’s directive doesn’t provide clarity on what Obama might do if the FBI finds that Russia was involved with the DNC breach. But the private sector has been asking the White House for a guideline on the federal government’s role in fighting cyber crimes.

While existing policies can handle more minor threats, the U.S. needs a unified response to deal with severe attacks, the President said in his directive.

The White House has also come out with a color-coded scale that federal agencies will use to judge the severity of cyber incidents. It runs from zero to five, and threats evaluated at level 3 or higher will be deemed significant and trigger the FBI to investigate.

In addition, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence will function in a support role to both gather intelligence and even “degrade” the perpetrators’ capabilities.

In a statement, U.S. Representative Michael McCaul, a Republican from Texas, said he approved of the directive and called it an “important step” to ensuring that federal agencies can respond to domestic cyber attacks.

However, he also said that the President should clarify the rules of engagement for cyber warfare. That might mean the U.S. defining when a cyber attack should be construed as an act of war.

U.S. lawmakers have proposed a bill, still under review, that would direct the President to design such a policy.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Michael Kan

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?