A presidential directive signed by President Obama Tuesday will put the FBI in charge of responding to all cyber threats and give the federal government a more active role in investigating, preventing and mitigating attempts to hack into U.S.-based computer networks.
Obama’s homeland security adviser, Lisa Monaco, said the change was necessary because it’s not always clear whether those responsible for a hacking incident are other countries, terrorists or criminals.
“This directive establishes a clear framework to coordinate the government’s response to such incidents,” Monaco told a cybersecurity conference at Fordham University in New York Tuesday. “It spells out which federal agencies are responsible. And it will help answer a question heard too often from corporations and citizens alike — ‘In the wake of an attack, who do I call for help?'”
While in the works for months, the directive comes just days after the transparency organization Wikileaks revealed 20,000 e-mails stolen from the Democratic National Committee. Security experts suspect Russia was behind that attack, which roiled the Democratic National Convention by showing that the national party actively conspired to hurt Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign. That, in turn, led to the resignation of DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz on the eve of the convention to nominate former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for president.