A New Hampshire senator slammed the Trump administration for poor cybersecurity efforts in a speech at Southern New Hampshire University this week, echoing anew Office of the Inspector General (OIG) reports finding serious cybersecurity problems at multiple federal agencies.
Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) sits on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and is ranking member of the subcommittee that oversees emergency management. She criticized the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in particular, citing poor management and inadequate funding as the main culprits for poor cybersecurity practices.
“I am extremely concerned about the leadership void at the topmost levels of the department right now,” Hassan said, according to the New Hampshire Union Leader. “The turmoil and turnover we are seeing presents a direct risk to the department’s ability to effectively carry out its vital mission.”
Her criticism comes right after Democrats and Republicans on the House Committee on Homeland Security sent a letter to the House Appropriations Committee asking for more funding for DHS to address cybersecurity threats.
“Despite the warning signs, investments in our federal civilian cybersecurity capabilities simply have not kept pace,” the members of Congress wrote. “Threats to our federal networks and critical infrastructure constantly evolve, and our adversaries’ capabilities outpace our defenses. In today’s world, a flat cybersecurity budget is just as dangerous as a cut.”
Last week, President Donald Trump announced DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and U.S. Secret Service Director Randolph Alles would step down. Cybersecurity experts told The Washington Post this could hurt the DHS’ important cybersecurity initiatives.
In her remarks, Hassan also expressed “concern” regarding Trump’s decision to disband the DHS’ Domestic Terror Intelligence Unit.
“Domestic terrorism of all types is becoming more frequent and more deadly. At the same time, countries like Russia and China, terrorist groups, criminal organizations, and individual bad actors are attempting to exploit vulnerabilities in our country’s computer and information systems to threaten our economy, our infrastructure, and even our physical security,” Hassan said in her speech.
Several OIG reports released in the last month highlight gaps in cybersecurity at several high-priority federal agencies, like DHS, the Department of Defense (DOD) and the Department of the Treasury.
In its April report reviewing the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA), a division of DHS, the OIG noted cybersecurity is a very high-risk issue for all federal agencies, and FEMA in particular has struggled with cybersecurity issues for years, according to the April report.
But DHS isn’t the only federal agency struggling with cybersecurity.