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
    Adam Wood (profile), 1 Apr 2015 @ 11:59am

    Dumb dumb DUMB!

    I have a small, still under construction website. Almost from day one my logs have been continuously splashed with hack attempts... this is a daily occurrence, 100s of hits per day. The IP's trace back to a few places but China is a huge part of it. All of them "testing" my security by trying to access various known exploits of products such as wordpress (which isn't even installed on my server) or submitting too much data to see if they can cause some sort of overrun. My site on my server is a nowhere kind of site with very little exposure and certainly no kinds of major publicity or usage. I get less than a handfull of real "impressions" per day... yet, here I am under full onslaught to try and break my security. I have to think that if me, a nobody in the internet world, is getting hammered then every other nobody and even more sites who are somebody are getting hammered just as hard and harder. One might consider this "engaging in significant malicious cyber-enabled activities" don't you think? Tens of thousands of nobodies multiplied by this effort.

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