Obama announces cybersecurity action plan

US President Barack Obama announces cybersecurity action plan to modernise computer systems used in government offices

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

US President Barack Obama speaks during a meeting with members of his national security team on cybersecurity on February 9, 2016 in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, DC

US President Barack Obama announced his cybersecurity "national action plan" on Tuesday, as top intelligence chief warned him that the latest technology could be more accessible to hackers.

Obama also called for a 35 percent increase over cybersecurity efforts, marking the total for his budget request at $19 billion, with $3 billion to modernise computer systems that have been used in government agencies.

"More and more, keeping America safe is not just about more tanks or more airplanes," Obama told reporters at the White House.

"We also have to bolster our security online. As we've seen in the past few years, and just in the past few days, cyber threats pose a danger not only to our national security but our economic security,” he said.

US intelligence Chief James Clapper underlined the risks at a Senate hearing, as he pointed out that extensive adaptation of connected systems can open up shifts for hackers.

The top intelligence chief also referred to Russia, China, Iran and North Korea as "leading threat actors" over US security and said   that evolving technology causes to grow these risks.

"Future cyber operations will almost certainly include an increased emphasis on changing or manipulating data to compromise its integrity... to affect decision making, reduce trust in systems, or cause adverse physical effects," Clapper said.

"Russian cyber actors, who post disinformation on commercial websites, might seek to alter online media as a means to influence public discourse and create confusion. Chinese military doctrine outlines the use of cyber deception operations to conceal intentions, modify stored data, transmit false data, manipulate the flow of information, or influence public sentiments,” he said.

Obama said some of the US computer networks are ''archaic'' and the systems are left behind from the “1960s.”

"If you've got broken, old systems -- computers, mainframes, software that doesn't work anymore -- then you can keep on putting a bunch of patches on it, but it's not going to make it safe,” he told reporters.

Michael Daniel, Obama's special assistant for cybersecurity, said that the plan aims "both the modernisation of our IT [information technology] and the modernisation of how we handle cybersecurity."

The discussion came after personal data from nearly 20 million federal officials were disclosed at the Office of Personnel Management last year.

TRTWorld and agencies