A presidential directive signed by President Obama on Tuesday places all responsibility for the United State’s ability to respond to cyber attacks on the Justice Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. For years the Commander-In-Chief has put off the decision to put a single agency or entity in charge which, in turn, created confusion among private companies and between government agencies.
The directive means the Justice Department will take the lead in “threat response” and will lead investigations into “hack attacks” against the Federal Government’s servers and online data bases. Almost all government agencies will now rely on the FBI to determine the source of the attack, stop the attack, and identify the perpetrators.
Lisa Monaco, Obama’s homeland security advisor, stated that the directive was needed because it is often unclear as to who is causing the attack; whether it be terrorists, criminals, activists, or foreign governments. Monaco commented on the release of the directive stating:
“This directive establishes a clear framework to coordinate the government’s response to such incidents. It spells out which federal agencies are responsible. And it will help answer a question heard too often from corporations and citizens alike — ‘In the wake of an attack, who do I call for help?'”
The decision to name an agency has been contemplated over for weeks but was released shortly after a Wikileaks revealed 20,000 Democratic National Committee emails that show the party actively conspired to damage Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign. The revelation caused DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz to resign the night before the convention to nominate Hillary Clinton for president. Several sources are blaming Russia for the attack claiming that the Russian government was attempting to influence the 2016 presidential election.
The directive also attempts to define what constitutes a “significant cyber incident” that requires a federal response. A significant cyber incident is defined as an incident that is “likely to result in demonstrable harm to the national security interests, foreign relations, or economy of the United States or to the public confidence, civil liberties, or public health and safety of the American people.”
While the Department of Justice is now spearheading all investigations they will still receive ample support from The Department of Homeland Security and the Cyber Threat Intelligence Integration Center. A select few government agencies will be responsible for attacks against their networks. The military will continue to be responsible for any breeches within military branches and the Department of National Intelligence will also be responsible for their own servers and networks.