Trump’s flood of sins, and why Russia stands out | Moran

Donald Trump has a special trick that protects him from the scorn he deserves: His outrageous behavior comes at such a furious pace that it’s difficult to keep up.

We put aside his bragging about grabbing women’s genitals when he claimed that he won the popular vote. We put aside his rejection of climate science when he tried to rob 22 million people of health insurance. And so on.

Let’s not allow this to happen when it comes to Russian meddling in last year’s election. Our democracy is at risk. And Trump is not lifting a finger to defend it.

The attention now is focused on the sins of Donald Trump Jr., the president’s son. Last year, during the heat of the campaign, he met with a Russian lawyer with close ties to senior Kremlin officials after she offered to spill dirt on Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

Don’t let that story distract you. Yes, it is beyond alarming that the campaign would bite at such an offer from a foreign adversary, one known to have sabotaged elections in the West. And by initially lying about the purpose of the meeting, Donald Jr. has inflamed suspicions.

But don’t be distracted by the possible sins of the son. The truth is we probably won’t know if the Trump campaign colluded with Russia until we hear from the special prosecutor, former FBI director Robert Mueller.

Focus instead on the tangible sins of the father, who is almost inviting the Russians to repeat their assault on our democracy.

On foreign soil, our president dismissed the verdict of American intelligence agencies, who unanimously concluded with “high confidence” that Putin personally ordered his intelligence agencies to mess with our election and help Trump win.

Trump shows only indifference. In his nine meetings and phone calls with his first FBI director, James Comey, Trump never once asked about the evidence, Comey said. Why would that be?

Trump claimed that he pressed Putin about the meddling in a private meeting at the G-20 summit last. Only a fool would bank on that claim, given Trump’s habit of lying.

But it misses the point by a mile. A tongue-lashing is no answer. Trump has imposed zero punishment on Russia over its meddling — no economic sanctions, no threat of retaliation, not even a public statement of outrage.

He even proposed a joint effort with Putin to combat cyber-warfare, an idea so ludicrous that he abandoned it within a day after a storm of bipartisan mockery.

“There’s only one person in Washington, that I know of, that has any doubt about what Russia did in our election, and it’s President Trump,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, a leading Republican, said Sunday on Meet the Press. “The more he talks about this in terms of not being sure, the more he throws our intelligence communities under the bus, the more he’s willing to forgive and forget Putin, the more suspicion. And I think it’s going to dog his presidency until he breaks this cycle.”

This is a breathtaking failure of leadership. So, it falls to Congress to deliver a stinging answer to Putin, one worthy of those who fought and died to protect our democracy. We cannot allow Trump’s indifference to carry the day.

More:Tom Moran columns

Tom Moran may be reached at tmoran@starledger.com or call (973) 836-4909. Follow him on Twitter @tomamoran. Find NJ.com Opinion on Facebook.

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World ill prepared for cyber attacks, Ukraine prime minister warns

No country is adequately prepared to defend against devastating cyber attacks of the kind that crippled Ukraine last month, the country’s prime minister has warned.

Volodymyr Groysman, the Ukrainian prime minister, told the Telegraph that the financial and material impact of a massive cyber attack that hit his country earlier this month is still being counted.

“It was the biggest cyber attack we have faced to date,” Mr Groysman told the Telegraph. “It was without question economically damaging. We are still analysing the damage and it is difficult to assess right now,” he said.

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Russian Hysteria Now Threatens to Undermine US Cybersecurity

Now that hysterical anti-Trumpers have failed to prove collusion between Putin and the president, they are going after anything that breathes Russian air. Unfortunately, the crazed behavior has extended to include members of Congress.

The Senate Armed Services Committee, in an attempt to “counter Russian aggression,” is now proposing the entire Department of Defense be prohibited from using any software developed by Kaspersky Labs, a leading cybersecurity technology company, which happens to be headquartered in Moscow. They are additionally drafting legislation that singles out Kaspersky and broadly includes any company “operating from Moscow” that will make this ill-conceived ban a law.

Kaspersky Labs is probably the single most-respected cybersecurity research and development company on the planet. It is usually first to digest and dissect the inner-workings of zero-day malware and have a long and highly respected history of doggedly pursuing adversary cybercrime campaigns — and openly sharing the results with actionable information and intelligence throughout the InfoSec and cybersecurity community.

Big fans of Kaspersky include guys like Robert M. Lee, the CEO of the industrial cybersecurity firm Dragos, an industrial control security instructor at SANS Institute, and a former U.S. Air Force cyberwarfare operations officer. Of the hundreds of thousands of information security professionals in the world, you would be hard-pressed to find a single person who has a negative view of the company.

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I thought Congress was supposed to be a thoughtful and studious body of pre-eminent thinkers in America who are voted into office to look out for the best interests of the American public. And it would seem to me that if you don’t understand something very well but are held responsible for outcomes, then you would consult with domain experts before making decisions that affect the domain.

Apparently not. Not a single member of the Senate committee has apparently bothered to query anyone in the private sector about this Kaspersky ban before cranking out this National Defense Authorization Act markup. If passed, it will have a serious, deleterious effect on every cybersecurity company in every country and on the Department of Defense, and on all of our collective efforts to combat cyber threats.

It’s not enough that the NSA and CIA are continually allowed to feed the enemy through their failed operational processes. Now we ban a premium source of cyber-intel on top of that. What’s next? A ban on TrendMicro because Eva Chang, its CEO, is Chinese? Technically, Chang was born in Taiwan, but to the esteemed members of the Senate committee, maybe that won’t make any difference.

In response, and in an effort to prove that the company doesn’t behave maliciously, Mr. Kaspersky has offered (reasonably) to share his source code and testify in front of Congress.

And surprise, surprise, a senior Russian government official has warned that Moscow may retaliate if the Senate moves to ban the use of Kaspersky Lab software by government agencies, by ceasing its widespread use of American technology software and hardware.

If this move by the Senate is a belated response to Moscow’s alleged interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, it is beyond disgraceful. No one anywhere has ever suggested that software from Kaspersky Lab was involved in any way. And of course, as with other Congressional mandates, the practical implications are nearly impossible to sort out.

Democratic Senators Try Grandstanding on CybersecurityLawmakers who sat silent as Obama allowed threat to grow send letter demanding Trump take action

Kaspersky Lab software is used by many U.S. government agencies, but it’s not clear how much it might be used by the Defense Department because the software is frequently provided by third-party resellers and vendors. The General Services Administration also says it’s not clear how extensively Kaspersky Lab’s software is used across the U.S. government, including in which agencies because among other things, it is integrated with over 3,500 different products.

If the rest of the world reacts in kind with what the Russian government official has threatened, and we begin to globally sort out products by national origin, the result will affect U.S. commerce far more disproportionately than it will foreign products. Are they unaware that most cybersecurity, operating system, database and application software is built in America?

Or have they forgotten the global response to PRISM, the revelation that the U.S. was using cloud services to spy on foreign governments, whereupon the EU reaction was to advise businesses not to use U.S. cloud-service providers?

So if we can’t stop this stupid Senate action, at least we should take up Kaspersky’s offer on the source code review. Sharing source code is a common practice for U.S. software vendors operating under foreign government oversight in international markets. It will reveal — or fail to reveal — all that sinister manipulative code that the Senate imagines Kaspersky is using to tear down our government.

Steve King is the COO of Netswitch Technology Management.

  1. #Defense Department
  2. #DOD
  3. #Russia
  4. cybersecurity
  5. Kaspersky
  6. Kaspersky Labs
  7. Pentagon

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New Australian cyber unit to target overseas criminals

International cyber crime is on the rise (Image courtesy: Chief Photographer/MOD).

Australia has launched a new information warfare unit, charged with combating cyber criminals abroad and defending the country’s military infrastructure.

The unit, whose creation was announced at the end of June, has opened with 100 staff; numbers are expected to grow to 900 within 10 years. It will employ both military personnel and civilian public service employees.

The new unit will play a central role in the Australian Defence Force (ADF), integrating cyber operations across the army, navy and airforce, and is seen as a major shift in the country’s defence strategy.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull gave the go-ahead on Friday for the force’s offensive cyber capabilities, which have previously been used against terrorist organisations, to be employed against overseas cyber criminals as well.

“Given the growing cost of cybercrime to the Australian economy, the government has directed the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) to use its offensive cyber capabilities to disrupt, degrade, deny and deter organised offshore cybercriminals,” he said in a statement.

“The use of this capability, which is currently used to help target, disrupt and defeat terrorist organisations such as Daesh, is subject to stringent legal oversight and consistent with our obligations under international law.”

Citing the recent Wannacry and Petya ransomware attacks, Turnbull said cyber criminals were increasingly targeting businesses directly as their level of sophistication improved.

“Our response to criminal cyber threats should not just be defensive,” he said. “We must take the fight to the criminals.”

Cyber security minister Dan Tehan said AUS$400 million (US$304m or €267m) allocated to boosting cyber capabilities in last year’s defence white paper will help to fund the recruitment drive for the new unit, ITNews Australia reported.

“[The funding will] ensure that we can employ the personnel that we need to stand up a division like this and ensure that our military has the personnel and capability to keep us cyber safe,” he said.

Major General Marcus Thompson, deputy chief of information warfare with the Australian Defence Force, highlighted the recruitment challenges arising from its cyber strategy at a Cyber Security Summit last year. These include pay and the military’s physical entry standards.

To help address the recruitment challenges, any member of the ADF with the right attributes – regardless of pay, rank, corps or gender – could be trained in cyber operations, under an approach to selection based on “attributes rather than skills”, he indicated.

Professor Greg Austin, of the University of New South Wales, said Australia was “relatively undeveloped” in cyber warfare and the unit was one of the biggest shifts in its defence strategy, ABC News reported.

“We’re well behind the United States but the good news is Russia and China, potential adversaries of Australia, only really joined this cyber arms race in the relatively recent past,” he said.

Cybercrime is estimated to cost the Australian economy AUS$1bn (US$759m or €666m) a year. A total of 23,700 cybercrime incidents have been registered with the Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network (ACORN) in the last six months

For up to date government news and international best practice follow us on Twitter @globegov

See also:

Global ransomware attack used info stolen from NSA, says Microsoft

New international centre to challenge state-led fake news and cyber attacks

Germany announces new cyber security unit in wake of terror attacks

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