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Trump Team Planning Possible Retaliation for Classified Leak Allegations

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Jenna McLaughlin reports in Foreign Policy:

President Donald Trump’s inner circle is war-gaming how best to respond to the Washington Post’s bombshell report that he shared classified intelligence with the Russians about an Islamic State plot, sensitive information reportedly passed to the United States by Israel.

One option under consideration? Attack former President Barack Obama and his administration over their handling of sensitive data, in particular through one information-sharing program regarding cybersecurity threats.

According to a source with knowledge of a White House meeting that took place Wednesday morning, Trump’s team is considering launching an investigation into a Department of Homeland Security program that shares information on cyberattacks in an effort to coordinate globally on countering digital threats, insinuating that it inappropriately opened up streams of sensitive data to Russia and other nonallies. Another option under consideration is placing a story in the media about the program, similarly accusing it of sharing sensitive information.

The White House told Foreign Policy that it was not aware of any such meeting or discussions with Russia to participate in that information-sharing program.

The program in question, known as the Automated Indicator Sharing capability, allows companies to provide information about potential cyberattackers, like IP addresses and emails, to the U.S. government and international partners. The Department of Homeland Security is working on expanding the program to sharing “characteristics of cyberattacks” to help “identify and block adversary methods that we’ve never seen before,” wrote Scott McConnell, a department spokesman, in an email to FP.

The administration’s approach in this instance is a “bag of crazy cats,” the source with knowledge of the meeting said.

Another source close to the White House confirmed to FP that Trump and his team have been interested in targeting the Homeland Security program for the past couple weeks. Nothing has been decided, the source added, but it’s an option on the table.

Sources with knowledge of the program found the idea absurd.

One former Department of Homeland Security official, when contacted by FP and told about the Trump team’s plans, laughed in response. “That doesn’t make sense,” he said.

“It seems ludicrous,” the former official added.

While there is some cybersecurity information that the United States shares around the globe, including with Russia and China, “there’s certain information out there that’s beneficial for everyone to have, like, ‘Hey, this Windows program has a bug.’ When we share cybersecurity information with the Russians, we’re protecting their systems, making sure that no one hijacks their planes and missiles.”

Additionally, the former official said, nothing the department has in its information-sharing program is particularly sensitive. It would just be “indicators of an attack,” the source said. “Nothing is going to be vital to national security.” . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

18 May 2017 at 3:50 pm

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