Magazine January 23, 2017, Issue

Our Failed Cybersecurity Policy

President Barack Obama delivers remarks at the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center in Arlington, Va., on January 13, 2015. (Kristoffer Tripplaar-Pool/Getty)
Russian hacking requires a stronger response than it has received

President Obama’s approach to cybersecurity featured all of his bad habits. He placed undue faith in multilateralism. He emphasized intentions and neglected outcomes. His inner circle circumvented and ignored formal processes designed to ensure security and promote sound decision-making. His staff routinely failed to follow through on big promises. Above all, he placed political expedience over clear and considered policy.

His politics-first approach expressed itself chiefly in two ways: Obama took care to serve the interests of his Silicon Valley supporters, and he took measures to shield the Oval Office from embarrassment when failures of administration permitted massive, often sustained, hacks

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