Trump Just Gave Cyber Command A Better Seat At The Defense Table

The move streamlines the chain of command for cyberattacks and increases funds for the defense agency.
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Trump Just Gave Cyber Command A Better Seat At The Defense Table

Cybersecurity is getting a better seat at the Department of Defense, and that's good for government security in general.

Trump announced Friday he would elevate the status of U.S. Cyber Command to a Unified Combatant Command. The move would streamline the chain of command for cyberattacks, as well as increase funds for the agency.

The announcement follows an executive order signed back in May that called to strengthen the cybersecurity of federal networks. That order stated: "The executive branch has for too long accepted antiquated and difficult–to-defend IT." 

Before Trump took office, former President Barack Obama had also supported elevating Cybercom to a Unified Combatant Command.

The decision indicates tangible efforts by the White House to improve cybersecurity initiatives, which many experts have argued is absolutely necessary.

This past year, cyberattacks shut down a major power grid in Ukraine, held the U.K. National Health Service ransom and cost a major shipping company at least $200 million.

The White House isn't immune to these struggles either. Earlier this summer, Reince Priebus, Anthony Scaramucci and adviser Tom Bossert were duped into thinking they were communicating with Jared Kushner via email. Bossert, who handles cybersecurity matters as part of his job, even gave his personal email address to the fake account.

In regards to how government agencies should respond or defend against these security concerns, the plans of action weren't very clear. According to a report from the Government Accountability Office, it wasn't known which government agency — either U.S. Northern Command or Cybercom — would handle cyberattacks. 

Trump is also considering separating Cybercom, which focuses on war-fighting tasks, from the National Security Agency, an intelligence-gathering organization. While Obama was still in office, the Department of Defense had already started taking steps to make this transition.

These moves are good news for government security, but there are still cybersecurity holes in the administration. This month, major information security officials from the Office of Personnel Management, Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Homeland Security and the Navy announced their departure.