Despite being seen as the “must-see” piece of legislation required to keep America’s military operations going, Trump has repeatedly threatened to veto the recent defense spending approval. Trump’s reason? Twitter. In particular, he doesn’t like the way Twitter has clapped warnings on his destructive lies, informing readers in the mildest possible way that what he’s saying is somehow, somehow, maybe just BS.
As the New York Times reports, this bill includes not only money to support the boots locally around the world, but two dozen anti-hacking proposals approved by a non-partisan commission. Among other things, it would expand the power of The federal government is hunting foreign hackers into US government systems and would define the role of a “cyber director” to coordinate online defense.
If these tools were already in place, the government could be much more effective at exterminating Russian hackers and closing the door tightly behind them. If the rules were already in place, the hacking might not have happened in the first place.
As it stands, Russian interference with government systems went undetected and unexpected until a private company pointed out a vulnerability that exists in several systems, including that of SolarWinds in Texas. This company located the problem after being hacked by state actors who were likely also Russian intelligence agencies. Russia stole tools with which “white hat” hackers protect systems from their shadier namesake. This theft should give Russia an edge when it comes to avoiding future traps.
At the moment, Trump hasn’t vetoed the defense bill, but that doesn’t mean he feels more supportive. Instead, Trump waits until the last second to add a large “nyet” to his Sharpie sketch. That makes it far more impractical for Congress to override Trump’s veto, as it would mean breaking off a Christmas break.
As Fareed Zakaria notes at the Washington Post, Russia’s cyberattack was more than just a little rummage. it was “massive, unprecedented, and crippling”. Even determining which systems have been breached can take years, and even that doesn’t mean those systems are now secure. This is not espionage, but rather a “hybrid warfare” in which Russia has deliberately infiltrated and damaged systems that are responsible for critical infrastructure as well as military assets.
On this subject, Trump remains … remarkably silent.