President Obama Signs Executive Order Saying That Now He's Going To Be Really Mad If He Catches Someone Cyberattacking Us

from the oh-come-on dept

This, apparently, is not an April Fool's joke. This morning, President Obama signed an executive order [pdf] allowing the White House to issue sanctions on those "engaging in significant malicious cyber-enabled activities." I'm sure the Chinese state hackers behind the Github DDoS are shaking in their boots.

To make this work, the President officially declared foreign hacking to be a "national emergency" (no, really) and basically said that if the government decides that some foreign person is doing a bit too much hacking, the US government can basically do all sorts of bad stuff to them, like seize anything they have in the US and block them from coming to the US. Because that won't be abused at all.

Look, everyone agrees that there's a lot of online hacking and computer attacks going on. So much of what we do in the world has moved online, so of course that's going to be a target. But giving a general "ARRRRRGGH! HACKING BAD! WHITE HOUSE MAD!" executive order seems incredibly pointless and counterproductive. It seems like yet another example of politicians feeling the need to do something because there's a problem -- but not having any good ideas on what to actually do that will help solve the problem. So they just do something to say they did something, never mind how toothless it is -- or (more importantly) how the broad and vague definitions set forth in the "something" they do can (and will) be used in the future against perfectly reasonable actions and actors.

It's stories like these that make actual computer security folks shake their heads in confusion at politicians. You don't solve cybersecurity issues with vague executive orders. You do it with better security practices (and not undermining those practices with backdoors and stockpiling zero days).

Filed Under: cybersecurity, executive order, national emergency, president obama, sanctions, white house


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  1. icon
    GEMont (profile), 2 Apr 2015 @ 2:49pm

    Welcome to the New War.... same as the Old War.

    "ARRRRRGGH! HACKING BAD! WHITE HOUSE MAD!"

    That is merely the "public perception ploy", that allows this new "War On ____" to get full tax-traction and support of law.

    In this case, its a "War On Hackers", and once you start to realize exactly what this particular "War On" allows the Feds to do, you will be seeing this legislation in a whole new light.

    You do remember the recent kerfuffle about letting Corporate America - other-wise known as the Billionaire Fascist Club - run "attack wares" - called "defense wares", legally against "perceived" cyber assaults.

    Well, now they have an executive order that will nicely immunize them against any repercussions, should they, say, fry the computers of an on-line chess club by mistake, in their retaliations against some unknown hackers or an Anonymous DDOS attack on their network.

    And I'll betcha they now have access to tax-payer funding for research and development of new and better attack, errrr... defense wares, as well, and maybe even access to NSA Brand(TM) anti-cyber tools.

    And ya'all should by now, know exactly what total immunity from all consequences of one's actions lead to.

    If not, look no further than the CIA, FBI, NSA, NYPD, and all the other so-called public-servants of the USG, who are now laws unto them-selves, answering only to... well.... not you, that's for sure.

    If you're having difficulty still, you might want to simply see this new executive order as the declaration of the War on Hackers, which will now be waged like the War on Drugs, and the War on Terror.... that is, forever and on your dime.

    ---

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