Rest in peace, Cyber Coordinator. The White House’s Special Assistant to the President and Cyber Coordinator has now been eliminated, apparently ending (or more likely pausing) a two-decade history. It will widely be reckoned as a hideous mistake but not perhaps the one which most needs our immediate attention. The ...

Like some of you, perhaps, I have spent an inordinate amount of time consumed with the revelations about the latest tweet, or twist in the Russia investigation, or tempestuous rant coming from an outraged politician or pundit. The release of former FBI Director James Comey’s memoir is just one more ...

When giving public or semi-public talks, I have long been asked “What single threat worries you the most? What keeps you up at night?” When I served as a senior CIA official from 2006 to 2013, and after a long career as an intelligence analyst, I felt I needed a ...

At it again. This week’s government shutdown is an all-too-familiar refrain for those of us with lengthy government service. Shutdowns – and the impact of the supposedly temporary sequestration deal of 2013 – are annoying, diverting of precious time and attention from the national security missions of the United States, ...

One of the longest serving senior American counterterrorism officials is stepping down, with the departure of Nicholas Rasmussen as head of the National Counterterrorism Center, the Director of National Intelligence announced Wednesday. A veteran of the Bush and Obama White Houses, Rasmussen has served as the NCTC chief for the ...

The Trump administration’s nominee for CIA inspector general faced tough questions from lawmakers over his handling of whistleblower complaints, and his handling of a classified Senate document on allegations of torture by the agency. The CIA’s agency’s acting inspector general Christopher Sharpley was grilled about three outstanding whistleblower allegations against ...

When a new U.S. president takes office the January after an election, his or her administration takes over not only the world’s strongest and most powerful military, but also a robust and complex foreign policy bureaucracy. From the moment of inauguration, the work done by the incoming president’s transition team ...

North Korea is testing its nuclear program seemingly at will. Afghanistan and Iraq struggle with enormous security threats years after the U.S. intervened to help them.  Russian aggression and Chinese expansionism challenge the West.  Terror and cyber attacks are on the rise.  The national security challenges facing the United States ...

A new presidential administration needs a team of political and career appointees to run the government, including the world’s most powerful military and a vast diplomatic and national security team. So far, President Donald Trump has nominated 347 individuals, but only 140 have been confirmed. At the same point in ...

Tackling insider threat — everything from leaking classified information to potential workplace violence — is a key part of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center’s mandate. Leading efforts to develop new policies and pilot programs on the issue is NCSC Director Bill Evanina, who recently sat down with The Cipher ...

The White House’s National Security team is expected to issue a report early this week outlining U.S. options for deterring adversaries in cyber space.  The report, called for as part of President Donald Trump’s Cyber Executive Order issued last May, is expected to offer a range of options from economic ...

The long-awaited executive order on cybersecurity is out. It’s not dramatic or surprising (perhaps because drafts have been floating around Washington for weeks), but it has good ideas. It’s level-headed and pragmatic. The main thing to consider with the order is that it is mainly a presidential task order, calling ...

Sigal P. Mandelker, President Donald J. Trump’s pick to be Treasury Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence (TFI), is being lauded by former officials contacted by The Cipher Brief.   The Senate Banking Committee has not set a date for hearings, but if confirmed, Mandelker would head the office that oversees ...

FBI Director James Comey was the guest of honor at an Intelligence and National Security Alliance (INSA) Leadership Dinner Wednesday in Alexandria, Virginia. INSA is an intelligence and national security organization representing leaders from the public, private, and academic sectors. Director Comey’s opening remarks focused mainly on the FBI’s cyber ...

My late mother served as a sergeant in the Women’s Army Corps during World War II. She was nearly killed in 1944 by a “buzz bomb” – think German UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) – that destroyed the London building in which she worked and literally vaporized two of her office ...

NASA has never hesitated in the face of the unknown. The space agency landed men on the moon in less than a decade. It has sent spacecraft beyond the edge of our solar system and peered into the depths of the cosmos with the Hubble Space Telescope. But now, NASA ...

The appointment of Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster as National Security Advisor was not the Trump Administration’s first shake-up on the National Security Council, and it is unlikely to be the last. The Trump Administration’s decision to upend the NSC’s organization is an effort to correct what many believed had become ...

Saying you are in favor of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) is like suggesting you are a Republican in D.C. – the odds against are 20-1 and you are considered either peculiar, dense, or deviant.  But, there is a purpose for the DNI.  It is needed still.  And the ...

In the wake of retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn’s resignation as National Security Advisor on Monday over his communications with the Russian Ambassador to the U.S., President Donald Trump is considering three former military officers to replace Flynn. This follows a notable pattern of the new president’s reliance on retired ...

On November 8 last year, Donald Trump upended the American political system with his surprising electoral victory over Hillary Clinton. That result has raised many questions about the U.S. political system. Most significantly, it revealed a deep and widespread frustration with a system of governance in the United States, which ...

The Cipher Brief sat down with John Sopko, Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, to discuss how the U.S. reconstruction effort should proceed in Afghanistan. According to Sopko, “Oversight has been a problem since day one in Afghanistan,” and “agencies should provide effective and honest oversight as the first line ...

President Donald J. Trump’s Administration has suggested massive overhauls in a number of policy areas, but few have remained as shrouded in uncertainty as Trump’s vision for the future of cybersecurity. All that is known is through Trump’s statements that attribution is hard, China spies for economic purposes, the private ...

U.S. failure to fully develop and implement a comprehensive cyber security strategy created the perfect opportunity for Russia to attack the Democratic National Committee computer network, and enabled them to meddle and interfere with the U.S. presidential election.   Years of bickering by federal agencies – over which agency was in ...

In the fall of 2008, a bipartisan group of cybersecurity experts delivered some sage advice to Barack Obama, set to become president in January: “Don’t start over.” That group, organized by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, made a strong and persuasive case that the Obama Administration needed to ...

President Barack Obama’s decision to impose a range of sanctions against Russia for its successful network strike and information operation against the U.S. electoral process was an excellent first step towards an improved cyber deterrent capacity. However, we must do much more at home to harden our networks and critical ...

Hillary Clinton may have dodged an indictment when the FBI announced it would not recommend criminal charges against her for using a private email server while Secretary of State, but the State Department itself took a hit on account of its overall security culture. During the FBI announcement last week ...

Whoever the American people elect to be our next president in November, she or he will inherit numerous problems, including terrorism, the hollowing out of nation states by narcotics traffickers, and instability in the Middle East.  All of these problems have at least one thing in common.  They arise and/or ...

One year ago, on July 10, 2015, Katherine Archuleta resigned her position as Director of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) in the face of intense criticism following the announcement that OPM had been the victim of the worst breach of a government network in U.S. history. The actual breach ...

It has been a little over a year since the Office of Personnel Management announced that it had been breached. Since that time, the federal government has taken an array of steps to improve its cybersecurity posture and avoid another major breach. The Cipher Brief spoke to John Davis, Vice ...

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) was the victim of a cyber-attack in 2014.  Hackers (the Chinese are suspected) gained access to OPM’s local-area network on or about May 7, 2014 by stealing credentials and then planting malware and creating a backdoor for exfiltration.  Actual exfiltration of data on background ...

The Cipher Brief sat down with Michael Chertoff at the Aspen Security Conference to discuss emerging issues in cybersecurity. He feels that businesses and the government need to more proactively engage with cybersecurity problems and work closer together to minimize their vulnerability to hackers. TCB: What would you say for ...