CyberScout

Leaked Memo Warns of Poor Cybersecurity in White House

White House Cybersecurity
Getty Images

A leaked memo from the Office of the Chief Information Security Officer (OCISO) delivered alarming news about the state of cybersecurity at the White House.

Acquired and published online by Axios, the memo was included in a resignation letter from Branch Chief of White House Computer Network Defense Dimitrios Vastakis. In the document, Vastakis details several concerns about staffing and organizational policies that he felt were harming cybersecurity at the White House and causing personnel to leave “at an alarming rate.”

Vastakis took particular issue with the recent decision to fold the OCISO into the Office of the Chief Information Officer.

“This is a significant shift in the proprieties of senior leadership where business operations and quality of service take precedence over securing the President’s network,” Vastakis wrote.

The memo comes in the wake of several resignations or terminations from the office, which was established in 2014 in response to a successful Russian cyberattack.

“It is my express opinion that the remaining incumbent OCISO staff is being systematically targeted for removal from the Office of Administration (OA) through various means,” wrote Vastakis, concluding that “the White House is posturing itself to be electronically compromised once again.”

Other former cybersecurity officials for the White House have expressed similar concerns and misgivings with the current administration’s cyber policies.

“The termination of the cyber czar position compounded with placing individuals like Giuliani in charge of cyber has created the perfect storm,” wrote Tom Kellermann, the former cybersecurity commissioner for the Obama administration. “We are under siege by an axis of evil in cyberspace and we must appreciate that American cybersecurity is tenuous as we fight an ongoing cyber insurgency.”