(Image Credit – The White House)
President Trump signed an executive order on May 1 declaring a national emergency. The reason is the threat of foreign hackers attacking the country’s power systems.
The move aims to improve the cybersecurity of bulk-power systems in the country. The executive order states that foreign hackers are exploiting vulnerabilities in essential digital systems and networks in the United States. The order bans the importing, acquiring, transferring, and installing of bulk-power system equipment from companies under foreign adversary control.
In January 2019, then Director of National Intelligence Daniel R. Coats had stated in a report that both China and Russia had capabilities to hack into the US electricity grid. The changing nature of warfare means the US has to adapt to new types of threat. This executive order seeks to take a step in the same direction and develop the cybersecurity infrastructure of America.
Special Task Force For Energy Infrastructure Protection
The executive order signed on May 1 also authorizes the creation of a task force comprising of Secretary of Homeland Security, Secretary of Defense and the Director of National Intelligence.
The interesting part about the executive order is that it doesn’t name any specific company or foreign power. US Foreign policy is more hawkish towards China since President Trump came to power. The president is furious in private at the way China has acted during the coronavirus pandemic. While this executive order doesn’t specifically name a Chinese company or the Chinese government, it is safe to assume that this order was signed keeping in mind cyber-threats from the country.
Trump and Huawei
This executive order is not the first instance in the Trump presidency in which cybersecurity has made the news. In May 2019, the Department of Commerce blacklisted Huawei via executive order. This move essential disallowed American corporations from using telecommunication equipment manufactured by Huawei.
Huawei has been under the scanner since Trump took office. The company has been criticized for its handling of issues pertaining to cybersecurity and IP.