President Donald Trump recently learned that in 2016 millions of citizens had their personal data and devices exposed to ever-expanding cyber threats. During his second week in office, Trump held a listening session with cyber security experts to help fulfill his campaign promise of securing America against cyber threats.
Before the November election, in October 2016, attacks crippled servers that connect the public to many popular websites. Federal agencies were not immune with over 30,899 cyber incidents that led to the compromise of information or system functionality. Sixteen of these incidents met the definition of “major incident,” a designation that triggers a series of mandatory steps for agencies, including reporting certain information to Congress.
Much news has been reported this week regarding national security leaks and spying. Trump is particularly focused on keeping the United States safe from terrorist attacks.
“Going Dark” is a relatively new term the FBI uses to describe a growing trend among terrorist groups like ISIS. The law enforcement agency sees more criminals and terrorists “Going Dark” by using encrypted private messaging platforms in their communications.
“The terrorist threat has changed in two significant ways,” announced FBI Director Jim Comey, testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee last year. “First, the core al Qaeda tumor has been reduced, but the cancer has metastasized.”
Comey told the Committee that the offspring of al Qaeda, including ISIS (ISIL), AQAP and others, are their primary focus.
“Second, we are confronting the explosion of terrorist propaganda and training on the Internet,” he continued. “It is no longer necessary to get a terrorist operative into the United States to recruit. Terrorists, in ungoverned spaces, disseminate poisonous propaganda and training materials to attract troubled souls around the world to their cause. They encourage these individuals to travel, but if they cannot travel, they motivate them to act at home.”
Comey cautioned that Going Dark is a “real and growing gap,” that “must be addressed, since the resulting risks are grave both in both traditional criminal matters as well as in national security matters.”
The FBI Director revealed that ISIS “released a video, via social media, reiterating the group’s encouragement of lone offender attacks in Western countries, specifically calling for attacks against soldiers and law enforcement, intelligence community members, and government personnel.”
He noted that their intelligence and occurrences around the world show a “call to arms” that has boomed among terrorism supporters and sympathizers.
“The targeting of American military personnel is also evident with the release of names of individuals serving in the U.S. military by ISIL supporters,” Comey emphasized. “The names continue to be posted to the Internet and quickly spread through social media, demonstrating ISIL’s capability to produce viral messaging. Threats to U.S. military and coalition forces continue today. Social media also helps groups such as ISIL to spot and assess potential recruits.”
Troubling to many Americans was that the Obama White House “decided not to seek a legislative remedy,” but the FBI was working with private industries, various law enforcement agencies, and foreign partners to deal with these growing threats. Comey says their intelligence gathering helps them prioritize identified threats nationally and at each of the FBI’s 56 field offices. Trump will seek legislative remedy.