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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 October 2018

White House pledges to step up cyber measures against hackers

National Security Adviser John Bolton revealed the strategy on Thursday.

US intelligence agencies are braced for hacking attacks before the Midterm elections. Getty
US intelligence agencies are braced for hacking attacks before the Midterm elections. Getty

The White House warned foreign hackers on Thursday it will increase offensive measures as part of a new national cyber security strategy.

The move comes as US intelligence officials expect a flurry of digital attacks ahead of the November 6 congressional elections.

The strategy provides federal agencies with new guidance for how to protect themselves and the private data of Americans, White House National Security Adviser John Bolton told reporters.

Bolton said the policy change was needed "not because we want more offensive operations in cyber space but precisely to create the structures of deterrence that will demonstrate to adversaries that the cost of their engaging in operations against us is higher than they want to bear."

The new policy also outlines a series of broad priorities, including the need to develop global internet policies and a competent domestic cyber-security workforce.

It follows a recent Trump administration decision to reverse an Obama-era directive, known as PPD-20, which established an exhaustive approval process for the military to navigate in order to launch hacking operations. Bolton said the removal provided more leeway to respond to foreign cyber threats.

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"In general, I think there is new tone in the policy but not much new policy other than the revocation of PPD-20, which had already been announced," Ari Schwartz, White House National Security Council cyber-security director under President Barack Obama, told Reuters.

"In my experience it has not been deterrence policies that held back response, but the inability of agencies to execute," he said.

"I guess we will see what happens if this strategy really leads to less oversight, but a lack of oversight will likely lead to a lot of confusing finger-pointing in the wake of any failure."