State Department Shutters Its Cybersecurity Branch

July 21, 2017 2 min read

picture of state department's cybersecurity branch


In spite of the numerous wars and skirmishes across the globe, perhaps one of the most destructive forces on this planet remains cyberattacks; and especially by state-sponsored actors or hackers.

With this said, why or how the State Department has decided to close its cybersecurity branch, is a real head-scratcher.


State-Sponsored Cyberattacks Are On The Rise

picture of a hand committing a cyberattack demonstrating the need for cybersecurity 

As these attacks become more prevalent, intrusive, and capable of more disruption, state-sponsored hackers are finding ever more creative ways to wreak havoc.

An example of this would be theUnited Arab Emirates backing a team of hackers that managed to get into Qatari government news outlets and social media sites, and plant inflammatory quotes and stories about Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad al-Thani, Qatar’s emir.

These stories and quotes had the emir supporting Hamas, a known terror organization, and also praising Iran as an “Islamic power.”

While this does not seem like an egregious attack, the effect it has had on the region has been enormous and terribly destructive to the region’s diplomatic relations.

Immediately following these false reports, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain, and the UAE of course all moved to ban Qatari media.  All 4 then broke off diplomatic relations with Qatar and implemented a trade and diplomatic boycott effective immediately that put the entire region on edge and may even lead to more wars.


State Department’s Puzzling Move


wikileaks vault 7 cyberattacks cybersecurity state department

Like it or not, Wikileaks’ recent publishing of the CIA’s trove of hacking malware, known as the ‘Vault 7’ releases, has given other state-sponsored actors and other various hacking groups a new arsenal of ways to create disruption or worse.

All of these source codes can be used like a form of building blocks, improved upon, and even re-purposed entirely for a host of scary new scenarios not even thought of, yet.

So it’s only a matter of time before these malware programs are changed and used in such a manner to attack vulnerable parts of US infrastructure such as our nuclear arsenal or power grid.

That’s why this move from the State Department to close its cybersecurity branch makes such little sense.

This moves undermines the US’ ability to thwart cyberattacks, both domestic and abroad.

As Paul Scharre, Director of the Technology and National Security Program at the Center for New American Security, says, .“It’s manifestly ridiculous. That would be like the equivalent of during the Industrial Revolution saying ‘this electricity thing is not important to us.’ It seems kind of obviously wrong. I don’t frankly understand what Secretary of State Tillerson is doing over there at State.”

Nearly all cybersecurity experts agree on one thing:  this is the time to beef up cybersecurity, not take away from it.

There are more cyberthreats in the world now than ever, and each passing day will see even more.

Josh Bare
Josh Bare

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